CXO of the week: Gaurav Vohra, Chief Business Officer, UNext

UNext Learning, backed by the Manipal Education and Medical Group, is an online learning organisation focused on the higher education ecosystem. It is India’s first ed-tech company that provides end-to-end learning and assessment solutions in the online space. With best-in-class content and technology stack, it offers the platform for online degrees and courses, online assessments and engagement tools for building a community for lifelong learning.

Gaurav has over two decades of experience in the field of analytics and has worked across multiple verticals including financial services, retail, FMCG, telecom, pharmaceuticals, and leisure. An alumnus of IIM-Bangalore, Gaurav co-founded Jigsaw Academy in 2011 and has led the business since then. He has successfully raised venture funding from investors including MEMG to scale Jigsaw and has built a strong ed-tech brand in the emerging technology space.

In his role as Chief Business Officer of UNext, Gaurav will be responsible for the growth of online degree and certification programmes, marketing, and enterprise sales (the erstwhile ProLearn B2B business).

We recently interacted with Gaurav Vohra, Chief Business Officer, UNext. He shared important details about UNext, his entrepreneurial journey, the company’s growth, and much more. Read below to know more about it.

Introduction

I’ve been in the field of analytics for over two decades now. I’ve worked across verticals like financial services, retail, FMCG, telecom, pharmaceuticals, and leisure industries. In 2010, Sarita Digumarti and I started our own company (Jigsaw) because we clearly identified an opportunity to help professionals upskill in Data Science and build industry-oriented Data Science and Analytics abilities. Today, the company has successfully extended its programs across multiple domains for professionals of all kinds.

How has Covid-19 accelerated the transition to digital for the Education industry? What will be the new normal in the education industry?

When we started Jigsaw, a lot of people told us that offering analytics programs online in India may not be the best idea because our country was yet to accept the idea of learning remotely. But then the onset of the pandemic left everyone with no other choice but to go digital. Even in the post-pandemic world, we can clearly notice that remote learning and hybrid learning have become the new normal in the education sector. There are several benefits that come with online learning, and after getting a taste of them recently, the country’s education system doesn’t want to let go of it completely.

What, as per you, are the three important things that UNext & Jigsaw should be looking at today?

Right now, the three main focus areas for UNext & Jigsaw are offering seamless student journeys, best-in-class learning experience and data. Let me elaborate on each of them.

Seamless student journeys:

One of our main objectives is to offer affordable and accessible learning to each and every learner. Once the learners set out on a mission to complete a program, we make it a point to eliminate any obstacle that could distract them or slow down their progress. Our learners are notified about every new feature we come up with that can enhance their learning journey. Learners who work with multiple programming languages are provided with a single tool for a hassle-free experience. We’ve also adopted new-age payment mechanisms to offer flexible payment options to our learners. Offering a seamless learning experience will continue to be one of our main focuses.

Best-in-class learning experience:

There is a vast difference between learning offline and online. We don’t just make online learning as effective and interactive as offline learning, we make it even better. Through live classes, learners can connect with the faculty and easily get their queries answered. We even make our learning material accessible in multiple formats like pdfs, books, videos, etc. Soon, we’ll introduce a brand new learning experience for our learners that will enable them to stream the learning content like they consume content from OTT platforms.

Data:

The data that we collect helps us improve student experience to a great extent. For example, when a learner completes an assessment, the collected data can help us identify the areas they need to improve, and we can offer them the resources that can help them improve. I feel we should keep looking at our data to enhance the learning experience of our candidates.

Biggest USP that differentiates UNext/Jigsaw from its competitors?

While everyone in the market is offering a learning opportunity, we’re offering an upskilling experience, and our learners consider it to be a one-of-a-kind lifelong experience. We don’t stop at just providing learners with an industry-relevant curriculum, hands-on exercises, placement assistance, etc. We provide them with the right environment to help them truly grow. Our alumni don’t remember us for only helping them master the in-demand skills and knowledge. They also thank us for the support they received at every stage of their learning journey until they transformed into the best professional version of themselves.

What changes are UNext/Jigsaw bringing to the industry?

Since 2011, Jigsaw has been at the top of the leaderboard in offering learning programs in emerging technologies. Our programs help learners upskill with industry-relevant curricula, stay relevant & get noticed. The merger with UNext, India’s 1st ed-tech company that provides end-to-end learning & assessment solutions online, offered us a larger canvas to carefully curate industry-relevant professional programs. Together, we’re all set to impact the lives of learners across the entire higher education spectrum – starting from online college degrees to specially curated, industry-relevant professional programs. For knowledge-hungry candidates, our seamless and robust programs will be a learning treat they cannot resist.

How did you adopt tech at your company?

Our learners experience an interactive upskilling journey and they’re constantly updated about new additions in our list of offerings. For learners who work with multiple programming languages, we offer a single platform. We’ve also adopted new-age payment mechanisms to offer flexible payment options to our learners. To make learning accessible at all times, our learning material are available in formats like pdfs, books, videos, etc. Remote proctoring is also available for best-in-class assessment experience.

What are your views on the IT industry during the pandemic, and what are some of the insights on the future?

During the pandemic, the Indian economy slowed down to a great extent. The IT industry, however, kept growing and evolving and attending to its domestic and international clientele. According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian IT industry alone was responsible for as much as 8% of India’s GDP in 2020. While Covid-19 introduced numerous difficulties for us, the IT domain paid attention to these problems and focused on building solutions. Whether we look at Education, Finance, e-Commerce, or Healthcare, Information Technology curated solutions in every domain. As pointed out by NASSCOM & McKinsey, I truly believe India’s technology services industry can achieve around USD 350 Bn in annual revenue by 2025 if it focuses well on emerging technologies like Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cybersecurity, etc.

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Is online education as effective as traditional on-campus education?

Covid-19 has changed the way we study but the fundamental question still remains in most of our minds — is online education as effective as traditional on-campus education?

The emergence of internet services sowed the seeds of online learning in the early stages of the technological revolution. However, with the advent of digital transformation, the wide acceptance of the internet and its penetration into the daily lives of people broadened the scope of online education.

The education sector is undergoing a digital leap. Learning is no longer confined to the four walls of a classroom.

Rapid technology changes, internet penetration and growing demand for skill-based workforce has led learners to adopt a flexible learning route which allows them to study at their own convenience.

From a being a ‘good to have’ option for educational institutes and corporates, it’s become mission-critical to have an online play.

This has given rise to a range of edtech players across the learner lifecycle right from pre-primary, through K-12 and then higher education and professional certifications.

While these trends have opened doors in the education sector, it has also given the onus to edtech players to do justice to what has been hitherto considered as a noble profession.

At the end of the day, we are dealing with human beings and there is a risk of making the process completely mechanical. We need to be cautious about maintaining the personal touch in whatever form possible, to ensure that the process remains humanised.

Currently, online education is as mainstream as traditional or ‘regular’ education. Classroom-based learning also includes digital technologies or depends on online resources to effectively deliver the content to students.

For example, AR-VR technologies are embedded in the school curriculum to give students a near-real experience of the concepts they learn in textbooks, thereby ensuring immersive and interactive learning.

Online mode contributes to hybrid learning, which ensures uninterrupted education by improving accessibility and engagement.

The National Education Policy has enabled three modes of education — conventional on-campus education, distance education or correspondence, and online education.

The conventional mode is still the most popular one, in which the knowledge exchange takes place in an immersive campus learning environment through face-to-face classroom interactions.

Both students and teachers follow a structured schedule and curriculum that determines the learning pace. Students are also part of the larger campus community enabling peer learning and enhanced faculty/industry interactions.

Distance mode emerged in the last three decades and is popular among experienced professionals or individuals of the working age. Printed self-learning materials prepared by the enrolled universities are the primary source of learning.

Limited interactions with co-learners and instructors are available. Study centres play an intermediatory role among students and the institutions. For taking exams, learners need to go to the centres in the jurisdictions of the university.

Online education combines the best of both worlds — providing the quality and credentials of a conventional campus programme while making it affordable and accessible through modern platforms and digital solutions.

A learning management system (LMS) is the primary channel of learning. Students can learn through both synchronous and asynchronous methods using various self-learning resources available on the LMS.

It includes short and long reading material, recorded videos, online live lectures, short concept videos, and an e-library with e-books. It allows students to pursue their favourite programmes from anywhere, and at their convenient time.

They only need an internet-enabled device a smartphone/tablet/laptop. All of this is well-supported through a host of digital enablers like student communities, online university lifecycle management, career services etc.

The continuous endeavours of online education providers are creating an on-campus learning experience in the online mode. Various methods are devised in this regard.

  1. Gamification: A learner can pursue a programme like she/he plays a game with points in completing each module and a leader board to showcase top performers etc.
  2. 360-degree videos: These 360-degree videos give the essence of virtual reality for more immersive learning and imparting concepts comprehensively.
  3. Micro-learning: Explains concepts in slices so learners can imbibe the knowledge seamlessly, as compared to reading long articles or books at one go.
  4. Mobile-first approach: Smartphones are an integral part of human life, and the mobile-first approach is an effective strategy. Mobile learning applications help students learn anytime, track their learning progress, get notifications etc. Bite-sized content is the primary component of mobile-first approach.
  5. Practical sessions: Online learning curriculum includes practical sessions to give students a deep understanding of each concept and hands-on experience in such subjects.
  6. Adaptive learning: The systems are evolving at a rapid pace to ensure that individual learning paths are customized through different content formats, difficulty levels etc. to suit individual pace of learning. This ensures holistic development of the entire learning cohort.

These are some of the methods adopted to improve the effectiveness of online education to compete with conventional learning.

Students from remotest regions could enrol in online degree or certificate programmes offered by top universities, thus, improving the access and equity of education, especially in the higher education sector.

Digital solutions are being made outcome-oriented to provide objective improvement in learner skills and being able to deliver at scale- thereby making quality education accessible as well as affordable.

Universities and edtech players have different strengths and a different DNA. Both must work together to synergise their strengths for the long haul to offer an affordable and accessible learning experience to students across the length and breadth of the country.

This will propel the industry towards the next big wave of education in India.

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‘Online education courses’ an ideal solution

Online education has gained tremendous popularity in the recent years and has started to revolutionise the education industry. People call it the new normal. Though online education has been on the cards for the past few years, it is the Covid-19 pandemic that has heralded as a boom for the industry. The need for remote learning, virtual communication, and strong emphasis on upskilling has paved way for the online mode of learning.

According to experts, the future of online educationin India looks very promising as stats show that the online education market will grow by a staggering 50 per cent during 2021-2025. It is a fact that EdTech has emerged as one of the mainstays of the post-pandemic economy for investors and practitioners.

Due to the many benefits of online learning, the Indian government has allowed universities to provide fully online degrees as they believe it could transform the education industry in the country for the best.

How do online programmes prepare you for the VUCA world?

To sustain in such a world where there is tremendous amount of uncertainty and ambiguity, we must continuously upskill and acquaint ourselves with the latest technologies.

Online courses play an important role in this aspect as they help us strike the rightbalance. Whether you’re a student looking to pursue higher studies or a mid-career professional looking for a career growth or switch, online courses are the best means to do so. They prepare you for any complex or unpredictable situation and make you future ready.

Here are some added benefits of doing online programmes-

Expansion of learning possibilities

Online education opens up a multitude of new learning possibilities. You don’t need to confine yourself to one course or college as there are hundreds of them available to you at affordable prices. Depending on your passion or the demand of the domain, you can pursue any course you want from any well-recognised online learning platform.

Exposure to broader career options

Online courses help you connect with persons from different cultures all around the world who can share their perspectives and insights on the career path you have chosen. You get exposure to a wide range of career opportunities, and thus, you can make a final call depending on your field of interest.

Convenient and flexible learning: Unlike the traditional mode of learning, which requires you to travel to school, college, or any other educational institution, online education allows you to learn lessons from the comfort of your home. Many educational institutions are providing advanced Learning Management Systems (LMS) that allow you to attend online classes, access study material, and interact with expert faculty and alumni whenever you want to. It is a safer and more convenient form of learning.

Stay updated and competitive: Learning and hiring trends keep changing rapidly, and you must always stay up to date to keep yourself in the game. Know what are the in-demand and high-paying domains and pursue courses related to them. Gaining deep subject knowledge and skills helps you stay ahead of competition.

Diversity in subjects and perspectives

When you opt for online learning, you can do multiple courses and gain insights into various subjects that help you advance your career. Whether you’re looking to build your career, restart, or switch your career, it’s never too late. Personalised learning: Acustomisable learning environment creates a personalised learning experience to students. An online course structure is usually tailored to meet each student’s individual strengths, skills, and interests. This allows everyone to learn at their own pace. Improved decision-making abilities You may find yourself amidst a lot of career options and may feel confused or overwhelmed as to which path you need to choose. You can always seek the support of your peers or the lecturers you meet through the online learning medium to guide you in the right direction.

Adaptability to constant changes: With constantly evolving technology, everyone must equip themselves with the right technical and soft skills to meet the needs of the changing business world. This helps you stay on par or ahead of your competitors.

The ever-increasing competition demands students and working professionals to be multi-skilled and cross-functional. People with diverse knowledge and skills have the upper hand in this fast-evolving world. Online learning opens up a new world of education. It offers flexibility, diversity of subject matter, and the ability to expand one’s career horizons. For those who face the challenge of balancing work, family, and education, an online course can be an ideal solution. Online education helps you prepare and sustain in the VUCA world.

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Online learning has enabled access to education from any part of the world

Educational institutions around the world with good quality education are booming with the emergence of technology. Time and technology are proven to be a big game changers nowadays. Technology is playing its cards well in the education landscape. Edtech is also one such platform that is transforming the world of education with multimedia innovation. The privilege that got delivered with edtech is that it makes education possible for even people who can’t think of learning be it differently-abled people, homemakers, people of older age, or kids during the pandemic. Edtech is opening an entirely new edge of learning for every age group and every professional.

With the growing spectrum of online learning and the massive ecosystem of e-learning, Elets News Network interacted with Gaurav Vohra – Chief Business Officer, UNext Learning. Edited excerpts:

How is EdTech redefining education for differently-abled people?

The education system in India has been trying to accommodate differently-abled students with several policies and programmes. Lack of accessibility, flexibility and equity are a few problems they face in traditional education. A 2019 report by UNESCO suggests that three-fourths of the differently-abled children in the country aged five years don’t attend school. Additionally, the number of dropouts among students with disabilities is high in India.

Here’s where EdTech comes as a blessing for differently-abled children. The advent of cutting-edge technologies has led the EdTech sector to offer a slew of solutions to give accessible education to differently-abled children. By introducing innovative solutions, EdTech players are trying to improve the accessibility of education to empower these children. Children with special needs can attend classes from the comfort of their homes and do not have to travel or relocate. Inclusivity is one of the pivotal factors that comes along with online education. When children with disabilities attend classes with other children, they feel included, and it bridges the psychological gap between them.

What are the important measures to guarantee accessible technology for all students?

For sustainable growth, it is pertinent to bridge the digital divide in countries like India, where a huge population is yet to access the internet. This is crucial for the expansion of online education too. A 2021 study by Azim Premji University found that 60 per cent of school children in India do not have internet access, especially when the Covid-19 pandemic led to a forced shutdown of schools. The pandemic also contributed to school dropouts.

Here are some measures that ensure that there is no digital divide-

Fast internet service – The government initiatives to expand the internet services will help students from interior parts of the country to access online education without trouble.

Digital literacy programs – Some students today lack technological skills. Teachers and educators can initiate digital literacy programs to help them catch up on pivotal tech skills.

Mobile first learning – Nowadays, all that a student needs is a smartphone to attend classes. Online education involves mobile-first learning, which consists of short, bit-sized micro lessons that students can easily access through their smartphones.

Create downloadable content – Making notes available on a platform where students can download or view them offline helps with round-the-clock access to material.

These features and measures will guarantee accessible technology to students from all backgrounds and ensure a seamless online education experience.

Also read: Online learning trends to keep an eye on as the education landscape changes

Why is online learning gaining popularity?

Thanks to the internet, online learning has enabled access to education from any part of the world. As long as one has access to a laptop or smartphone connected to the internet, it is possible to access learning as desired. Here are some of the reasons why online learning is gaining popularity.

1. Flexible learning – Online learning enables flexibility for teachers and students. Students can attend classes at any given time and study at their own pace.

2. Accessibility – Online learning has predominantly broken the barrier of distance. Students can attend classes from the comfort of their homes. Not only that, the cost-effective nature of online education makes it more desirable for learners these days.

3. Customised learning experience – Students can get access to various learning materials such as photos, videos and e-books to refer from. The customisation option allows students to continue target-based learning rather than finishing a complete program to earn a relevant certificate.

4. Adaptive learning – The EdTech platforms are using technology to accomplish adaptive learning in order to address the cognitive diversity of learners. The intellectual capacity of learners varies from individual to individual. Traditional learning compels students from all cognitive levels to learn the same content. Using cutting-edge technologies such as AI, machine learning, neural networks, and deep learning, EdTech solutions can identify the cognitive capacity of students, and recommend tailor-made content and learning paths.

How is online learning becoming more cutting-edge and improving this experience?

Educational institutions across the world are providing quality education with the help of cutting-edge technology.

  • Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes learning materials over real-world views. These virtual elements can be in the form of text, audio, video, photos, 2D illustrations or virtual 3D clips.
  • Virtual reality technologies allow students to experience destinations from across the world. It helps students understand complex subjects effectively and boosts their creativity.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning are widely being used in digital learning platforms. It helps provide students with personalised learning and automates the routine tasks of teachers. However, it is still early days for AI in online learning, and its adoption will only increase in the coming days.
  • Gamification is another emerging model in online education. Students can pursue their courses and compete with others like they do when they play other games. It gives the learners real-time updates on their learning progress and encourages them to learn more.

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Banking 4.0: where do humans stand in this new revolution?

The pandemic has truly turned a lot of elements and services that were convenient into absolute necessities. Banking that majorly involved people visiting brick and mortar outlets now attracts digital traffic and requests. To give you some perspective, the global value of digital transactions during the pandemic (2020) was around $5.2trillion.

In the evolution of the BFSI sector, we stand today at the dawn of what we call Banking 4.0. Similar to the buzzword Industry 4.0, which is marked by the arrival and influence of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), data science, cloud computing, cybersecurity and more, Banking 4.0 also witnesses the emergence of these new-age and in-demand technologies in its operations and infrastructure.

So, what is Banking 4.0 all about? More importantly, do humans have a place in it? Let’s find out.

Evolution of banking
● Banking 1.0: the conventional banking model that involved physical outlets and branches with customers experiencing a very analog way of transactions.

● Banking 2.0: From needing a teller or a clerk, Banking 2.0 introduced to the world of self-service banking with the early adoption of the internet.

● Banking 3.0: Adding a layer to self-service banking, this era utilises digital technologies and devices such as portable gadgets and apps to deliver a whole new range of banking experiences. This is also the time of personalised banking.

What is Banking 4.0?
Completely digital, mobile-first and less overhead are what would define Banking 4.0. For the uninitiated, the book by Brett King is even titled Banking Everywhere, Never At A Bank. This means customers will no longer experience generic products that follow a one-size-fits-all approach but more personalised services and offerings tailored to meet their individual demands and expectations.

Imagine the most personalised credit system that offers you buy-now-pay-later options based on your credit score, transaction and purchase history, payscale and more. Or, insurance premium options based on your driving history and record.

This also means a more proactive approach to solving real-life concerns and quick resolution of conflicts through increased usage of AI, ML and data science. Digital first will no longer be on paper at policy levels but across actions and implementations as well. This translates to the fact that the BFSI will witness more applications of AI to not just optimise customer experiences but make their administrative processes, systems and workflows more airtight.

Where do humans stand in this revolution?
While at the outlook, it might appear that there is no place for humans in this ecosystem, it is actually the contrary. When typewriters were replaced by first generation computers, there was a wave of fear among people that their jobs were at stake. A similar situation followed when spreadsheets arrived. The underlying point here is that emerging technologies have created more job roles that are niche as compared to destroying existing ones. This has forced people to transform and to acquire new skills, which prove to be lucrative and beneficial in the longer run.

With respect to Banking 4.0, the ecosystem would need professionals who have skills and expertise in

● Data science to uncover crucial customer and operational insights
● Building and deploying AI/ML models and implementing automation
● Architecting banking services on the cloud and at scale
● Building a cybersafe environment for customers using airtight cybersecurity measures and practices
● Using blockchain to secure and protect data through decentralised identity and other privacy mechanisms.

Besides, human capital is required for organisations to seamlessly transition from existing (and legacy) systems to advanced systems, scaling systems for smooth operations and bringing in a digital-first culture. All this will be a herculean task without sufficient human involvement.

Final thoughts
Right now, we are in times of rapid change, which leads to reflection on where the skills and competences of our workforce need to be in this evolution. With the role of humans evolving, are we prepared enough to take up new roles and responsibilities? Are organisations planning on talent transformation of their existing talent pools? Are we geared to define the banking experiences of tomorrow, today?

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5 Reasons why online learning will be the future of education in India

Over the last few years, online learning has been recognized at par with traditional classroom learning and has opened new windows of opportunities for everyone. Thanks to the internet, one can get access to quality education from anywhere in the world. From schools and colleges to universities that offer certification courses, online learning is making way for easy and flexible access to learning. As long as one has access to a laptop or smartphone connected to the internet, it is possible to access learning as desired. 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to campus shutdowns that opened more opportunities for online learning, as educational institutions and universities across the world are giving access to high-quality education with the help of cutting-edge technology. Online learning has not only benefited learners, but has also enabled educators in using various resources and tools to which they may not have access otherwise. 

According to Research and Markets, by 2026, the global e-learning industry is projected to reach USD 336.98 billion. Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies will become one of the biggest innovators of online learning. 

Here are some of the reasons why online learning is the future of education in India.

  • Flexible learning

Online learning enables flexibility for the learner and the educator. Learners can attend classes at any given time. Online learning becomes crucial especially for working professionals, who want to balance work life and academics. Working professionals can pursue learning after their work timings, as online learning gives access to that flexibility. Learners can also study at their own pace, schedule classes as per their convenience and opt to re-take recorded sessions in case of any doubts or clarifications. 

  • Greater accessibility 

Online learning has predominantly broken the barrier of travelling to universities or other educational institutions to attend classes. Learners need not travel or follow a strict schedule, that is an integral part of traditional classroom learning. With the help of a laptop or smartphone with an internet connection, students can attend classes from any part of the world. Not only that, the cost-effective nature of online education makes it more desirable for learners these days. Students can save the cost of travelling to college and buying books. E-books and other learning materials are usually available for free online and can be easily accessed. 

  • Customised learning experience and wide range of programmes

Customised learning is one of the greatest boons that online education offers. Students can get access to various learning materials such as photos, videos and e-books to refer from. The flexibility in online classes has enabled better student-teacher interaction. Online learning generally offers a variety of programmes and courses. Universities these days offer online versions of their degree programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels for students from any background. Learners are free to choose from a variety of subjects that interest them, and pursue them. 

  • Unique learning experience

The online learning system offers better learning experience where classes are delivered through artificial intelligence and virtual reality, which will become the highest innovators in the industry. Online learning includes tools like Learning management system (LMS), that serves as a virtual classroom, where teachers and students can interact with each other. Online education also involves mobile-first learning, which consists of short, bit-sized micro lessons that students can easily access through their smartphones. 

  • Acquiring in-demand skill set

Online learning helps improve one’s time management skills, especially among working professionals, who balance their corporate deadlines and academics. Online classes instil a sense of responsibility in students, as they need to take classes timely in order to complete their course smoothly. Collaboration is an integral part of online learning, wherein learners interact with various people, which becomes a part of their learning process. This also helps in network building. As students constantly interact with peers even in an online setting, it helps improve one’s communication skills to a great lev. Students also develop problem solving skills as they are challenged to tackle each problem differently. 

Needless to say, the popularity of online learning systems is only growing with time, and its benefits have made it a great alternative to traditional learning. Considering its advantages, online learning has already made an impact. Even though traditional cannot be completely ruled out, online learning is definitely the future of education in India. 

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Top 5 online tech degrees that upskill and get you job-ready

Online learning or e-learning got a tremendous push during the global pandemic crisis when all the educational institutions were forced to shut their doors and shift to the online mode to continue learning and teaching. With the support of digital technologies, institutions could streamline and transition to online learning and students and teachers could adapt to it effectively. Regulatory authorities recognized this mode of education, and top universities started offering online degree, diploma, and certificate programs. This change has formalized e-learning and enhanced the value of the certificates.

On the other hand, the digital transformation powered industry 4.0 impacted several job roles. In 2017, experts estimated that 85 per cent of jobs in 2030 are yet to be invented. We’re now experiencing this transformation with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA), and the Internet of Things (IoT). Companies require skilled professionals to perform emerging job roles. In order to fill the widening skill gap, the current workforce needs to reskill and upskill with the relevant courses in emerging technologies. The online degree programs are suitable for such professionals to upskill in their domain.

Top five online tech degrees
I’ve listed five top tech degrees students can pursue online.

1. M.Sc. in Data Science: Data science provides the foundation for most of the modern day cutting-edge technologies. From sourcing, processing, and analyzing to visualizing, and presenting, data science deals with overall data management and helps enterprises take data-driven decisions in their daily operations. An M.Sc. program in Data Science covers various concepts in the domain such as data analysis, machine learning and automation, database management, advanced programming, etc. With an online M.Sc. degree program, a learner can acquire all these in-demand skills and boost their career prospects from the comfort of their homes

2. M.Sc. in Business Analytics: Business Analytics is a subdomain of data analytics and focuses on helping enterprises build and improve their businesses by providing data-backed insights. Concepts such as financial statement analysis, managerial economics, database management, programming with R & Python, data visualizations, statistics, big data analytics and other key subjects are covered in an online M.Sc. in Business Analytics. Some of the leading higher education institutions offer business analytics specialization with their online MBA degrees to provide learners with quick career advancement.

3. MBA with IT & FinTech: Financial technology (FinTech) is another cutting-edge technology that revolutionizes the banking system across the world. IT & FinTech specialization with an online MBA will give the necessary boost to learners’ careers because the demand for FinTech professionals is huge. MBA IT & FinTech syllabus contains database management system, software engineering technology management, business intelligence, cryptocurrency & blockchains etc.

4. MBA / M.Sc. in Artificial Intelligence: AI and machine learning (ML) gradually offset several manual tasks. Organizations are implementing AI and ML to automate operations. An online M.Sc. in Artificial Intelligence teaches learners programming for AI, machine learning principles, robotics, big data analytics and many more. After the course, the learner can find a job in the AI domain and quickly ascend to leadership positions.

5. M.Sc. in Blockchain Technology / Blockchain Management: Blockchain technology is transforming industries across sectors. From fundamentals of blockchain technology to economic/business application of this niche technology, an online M.Sc. in Blockchain covers a wide range of topics. The high demand in the industry will ensure a guaranteed job for graduates.

Online degree programs in new-age technology are advantageous for working professionals to upskill in the transforming workplace and fresh graduates to start a better career. Based on their aptitude or preferences, aspirants can select any of these courses and improve their career prospects. It also helps them achieve a competitive edge over others in employment in top-notch companies. Online Manipal offers many of these career-defining courses online, and learners can make the most of it.

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How online degrees are helping military personnel pursue a second career

Online degrees are becoming popular among various categories and types of people in the society, thanks to the convenience and flexibility to pursue the course without modifying work schedules or commitments. It is a very convenient option for military personnel who are unable to pursue education in a traditional campus setting.

Military personnel have been early adopters of every remote mode of education – be it distance or correspondence or online programmes. Matriculation or senior secondary level education is the basic qualification for a preliminary-grade military role.

More than educational qualifications, these positions require and evaluate mental strength and physical capacity. Even for higher grades, specialised educational qualification is not required, except for some technical posts. As a result, majority of soldiers try to improve their qualifications through various modes.

Most active distance education study centres can be seen in military headquarters or camps. At any point in time, hundreds of learners enrol and pursue various courses in these centres through remote education.

The latest avatar of remote education, i.e., online learning, also fits soldiers who are eager to earn in-demand degrees to enhance their skills to achieve professional breakthroughs in and outside the military world.

Therefore, pursuing an online degree helps soldiers build a second career post-retirement.

1. BETTER UTILISATION OF TIME

During peacetime, military personnel who are posted in undisturbed areas may have some time to spend learning. Since everyone has a mobile device with an internet connection, these soldiers can study at their convenient time and pace.

Unlike distance/ correspondence mode, they do not need to use books to study, because all the online study material would be available on the learning management system (LMS).

Since there is no compulsion for attendance and the recorded lectures would be available on the LMS for every learner to revisit, a jawan need not worry about the attendance or missing classes.

Hence, even those who are on sentry duty can pursue the course and earn a degree in a seamless manner.

2. AN INVESTMENT FOR POST-RETIREMENT LIFE

Army personnel retire at a relatively young age. Some of them could have unfulfilled responsibilities in their lives, such as education and marriage of their children, treatment of ageing parents and more.

Veteran military personnel normally hesitate to lead an idle life. However, the major challenge they face is finding a suitable job. Therefore, earning a degree while in service would be a good investment to start a post-retirement career in future.

Doing a degree in the most sought-after domains will help multiply their career prospects.

3. EARN WITH IN-DEMAND SKILLS

Now, online institutions have started offering degree courses in niche skills that have more demand in the employment market. The focus is on producing job-ready and future-ready professionals who would be relevant in any volatile situation.

Moreover, industry inputs are incorporated in developing course content for online degrees, and business leaders and experts deliver classes and webinars that aim to bridge the skill gap in the industry.

Pursuing such courses help military personnel gain these in-demand skills and boost chances of finding career options post retirement.

Online degree programmers are very advantageous for military personnel to start new careers post retirement. Organisations are ready to hire ex-military candidates because of their disciplined life and other soft skills.

Gaining the necessary skills and higher educational qualifications would give them a competitive advantage to secure a lucrative job and prosper in their second careers.

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Skills TECH COMPANIES want from you

With rapid technological advancement, the demands and nature of each job are also changing exponentially. Organisations today are more focused on candidates’ skills that will not only add business value to the organisation but also help them thrive. Here are six critical skills that companies are looking for in candidates: Business analytics Data has become crucial for organisations to predict business results as well as create new strategies for growth. Analytics help businesses gain deep insights and aid in data-driven decision-making, becoming a core need in every company. And for this very reason, future leaders with business analytics and management skills are in high demand. A professional with analytical skills and knowledge is likely to progress faster in their career.

Artificial Intelligence

Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still an evolving field, it has generated enormous value owing to its tremendous success in the market. Acquiring employees with AI skills has become a huge attraction and requirement for companies. In the coming years, several industries will see progress and evolution in terms of AI as it is positioned to be a successful emerging technology in the industrial ecosystem in India. As stated by the Artificial Intelligence Report 2021 by Stanford, India is ranked sixth in the world amongst all the countries that are working relentlessly on AI and its implementation in the market.

Cloud computing

The global network for servers situated all around the world, the cloud has become one of the most dependable emerging technologies for Indian industries. As per IBM’s recent survey, 65 percent of companies say investment in IoT, cloud, and mobility will be a priority. As companies shift their business functions and resources to the cloud, it has become a high necessity to have professionals with high-level knowledge in this domain.

Data science

Collecting large volumes of data, analysing, and deriving insights from them to find solutions for business problems, have enabled companies to optimise their success. Data science has become an important asset to drive decisions and create profitable outcomes. A report by Analytics India magazine on the availability of opportunities in the field of data science states that, in India, the number of on-market vacancies has increased by 53 per cent.

Product management

Making strategic product-related decisions, analysing customer trends and other business-related activities have become of paramount importance for companies. They have come to realise the advantages of a product management team, to be able to succeed with a complete product in the market. From multinational companies to the highest-ranking private firms in India, all corporations are looking for competent professionals who have the necessary skills to handle a complete product lifecycle.

People analytics The Economic Times rated people analytics as the future of HR in India. In recent years, this skill has gathered a lot of attention among organisations for its ability to enhance the quality of a workforce and resources management. This skill helps in gathering and analysing data of employees’ functions, problems, and performance to increase the efficiency of any particular team or the organisation as a whole. India being a pioneer in the field of people analytics has particularly witnessed a rapid increase in the pace of recruiting skilled professionals in this field. Owing to the evolving market and technological advancement, the qualifications required for jobs are always changing and progressing. To secure a career in your respective fields and remain industry-relevant, upskilling is crucial. Expertise in the above-mentioned domains is essential for great placement opportunities.

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