Who we spoke to
  • 21 vetted students
  • Enrolled in Udemy, Coursera, Edutap, Unacademy etc.
  • 18 - 35 years old (GenZ and Millennials)
  • Residents of India
  • Engagement between June - July 2021
Topics we focused on
  • Platform features that work for online students
  • Limitations of Indian edtech platforms
  • Student workarounds
  • Student expectations from online education
Questions we asked
1. What motivates students to enroll for online classes?

Analysis:

There are two primary motivators for students to enroll in an online course:

  1. Clear an examination and get a better job or switch careers for better opportunities.
  2. Gain in-depth knowledge and expertise in a particular field of study or subject area.

Primary data:

2. How do students decide which online course/platform to enroll in?

Analysis:

Students explore several options before zeroing down on a platform to enroll for their course. The various mediums through which they explore their options are: YouTube review videos, demo classes provided by platforms and personal recommendations over WhatsApp. The most popular one is YouTube since they have a plethora of videos to watch along with reviews mentioned in the comments section as well.

Primary data:

"Firstly, I searched on YouTube then two to three classes I finalised and then I talked to my relatives my family which one is the best? Okay." - Sukriti, 19 years old, preparing for CGL exams.
"They're also on YouTube, when we watch any video ad came up telling us about the feature of the classes or the teacher... it helps." - Kunal, 28 years old, medical student.
"We were provided (with) classes on YouTube... live demo lectures... YouTube has a lot... we don't prefer any other (be)cause YouTube is the most accessible and easy accessible way to the videos." -Divya, 24 years old, preparing for GMAT.
"So it is, there is social marketing of these particular companies on these particular teachers that is very high. So whenever we operate Facebook or Instagram, so ads, well, they're also on YouTube, when we watch any video ad came up telling us about the feature of the classes or the teacher." - Sahil, 24 year old, CA aspirant

3. What challenges do students face while attending online courses?

Analysis:

Students face several challenges while attending online courses. The most prominent ones are: doubt-solving, lack of in-person mentorship, lack of a classroom environment and finding relevant content/reading materials. Most of these challenges emerge as a result of the shift from offline to online mode of classes.

Primary data:

4. Why is doubt solving the biggest challenge for students attending online courses?

Analysis:

Doubt-solving for online classes is a cumbersome process since teachers are not easily accessible. Even when they can be reached, the response is usually delayed by at least a day or two, if not more. This is specially a problem for students looking to gain in-depth knowledge in a particular field who are unwilling to move forward with the course without getting complete conceptual clarity.

Primary data:

5. Why do live classes work for some students?

Analysis:

Live classes work better for some students who need their doubts solved in real time and are not comfortable moving forward with studying a particular topic until all their doubts related to it have been clarified. Live classes feel more interactive as well, specially for students who enjoy in-depth discussions with their course-mates and teachers.

Primary data:

"Actually live classes would have been... actually better because it would have been easy for us to discuss that out during the class itself. Right." -Sahil, 24 years old, CA aspirant
"I guess I prefer online live classes. You can clear your doubts... messages are accepted... voice notes can be shared during live classes and concepts get clear." -Radhika, 27 years old, Medical student
"But I would ask them a question that would come to me later, but then in real time... what happens is certain doubts during the class... they're meant to be discussed in the flow of the class... just because they are in context... in relation to what is being discussed." -Harsh, 28 years old, Bank employee
"Basically the live classes so that it will be easy, easy for us to clear the doubts and everything. Other than that, a little more of interactive session with like hiring people... say the people from big companies, who come to take interviews specially. Okay. So I would feel... that would be better, because then you can get abetter idea because people who take interview has more idea there. So, if we get people like that, and they teach us that's more beneficial for all of us." -Neha, 21 years old, Engineering student
6. Why do pre-recorded classes work for some students?

Analysis:

Some students feel that their retention power is not as great or they are on a time crunch due to an exam approaching so they prefer to watch/re-watch lectures at their desired pace, skipping the parts that feel irrelevant or going over parts that feel harder to understand. Pre-recorded classes also work well if the student has time constraints due to a parallel job or college.

Primary data:

7. How do students feel about online counselling?

Analysis:

Students looking to start out or switch careers look for reliable counselling from a trustworthy source which is usually a teacher or a mentor from their field of study. Online classes are unable to provide this kind of a camaraderie with teachers. Additional advice around time management, career choices, subject choices etc. are also missing from online classes.

Primary data:

8. Where do students go when they need help with their assignments?

Analysis:

Students explore several options when they need help with their assignments or course topics in general. Since YouTube offers an abundance of videos from multiple sources or channels, students can watch as many of them until they have all their questions answered. The comments section also proves to be helpful while looking for solutions to assignments or other reference videos on the same topic.

Primary data:

9. Are students satisfied with their online course materials? If not, how do students make up for it?

Analysis:

Students are mostly satisfied with the course-related content but sometimes they go to different platforms for supplementary content, specially those who want in-depth knowledge of the subject. Over 50% of our participants admitted to relying on other sources for additional study material. Majority online platforms provide secondary study material but, post that, students go to platforms like YouTube, Telegram channels and WhatsApp groups for the same.

Primary data:

"Some questions are answered... like I attempted to do in YouTube randomly... like so many people are posting videos about what to do... what study material we have to buy... I also depend on some other YouTube channels on Google." -Rajat, 29 years old, UPSC aspirant
"I got some extra concept like machine learning on YouTube, which was not included in this course. But they were restructuring their course. I got a chance to get to know about the machine learning part well." -Tanmay. 25 years old, IT professional

10. What is the biggest shared aspiration of students enrolled in an online course?

Analysis:

Students want prompt and efficient doubt-solving along with updated content for their course. They want a common platform, akin to offline classrooms, that lets them communicate with their teachers and peers easily, preferably integrated with or provided as part of their online course.

Primary data:

"And after that, they are also providing us very interactive sessions like I told you... like polling system in between the video like teacher is asking some question and providing us more options... in the recorded also if we are we are given the full options in the chat box and we have to select one if we are wrong that they are also providing explanation in the comment box." -Sahil, 24 years old, CA aspirant
"(If) They provided us with some platform, especially for the course, so and if, during the class, we may not be able to discuss the things but after the class, if they provide any platform for us to discuss topics, as I said, it would have been very good." -Sharath, 29 years old, Bank employee
"And then we used to just, you know, sit back and watch... like the teachers. But then after like some classes, we formed our own group. It was like a group where we converse among ourselves, like only the students." -Anjali, 22 years old, MBA aspirant

11. What do students miss the most about their offline classes?

Analysis:

Students miss interactive sessions and activities held by teachers in offline classes. Attending online classes alone can result in procrastination and lack of motivation in some students as well. The absence of a classroom environment where students can connect with their peers and discuss their aspirations and progress in real time does not work well for the majority of them.

Primary data:

"I think I do miss the physical part of it. Like, you know, when you're in a class, it's like, it's somewhat of a motivation for you as well. Because if I'm alone, it's like, nobody is watching me. So I can do whatever I like, you know, I can also just log in to the link, I can just let the video run in the background, and I can do something else. But when you're in class, you can't do that you can't be on your phone. So that's one major thing that I noticed." -Anjali, 22 years old, MBA aspirant
"In fact, my professors in my university, they would say... they put an image on the board, and they'd say, they'd ask for answers. Yeah. And then that's how easily they would explain things. Yeah. So this was the motivating part. Yeah, this is what is a little demotivating now (in online classes). But these are not things we are exposed to (in online classes). Nobody is exposed to something like this. So yeah, like an offline classroom." -Harsh, 28 years old, Bank employee
"The problem is this after having dinner or attending the live lecture, like probably late night, I get very lethargic, and I'm not very attentive at times, but this like you have to get through with it that is why I prefer pre-recorded lectures because according to my convenience when my mindset is in the right space, I will understand it much better. And in offline mediums you did not face these things like you're facing the teacher you are understanding it you are not diverted you are completely focused with offline lectures. It is very easy and it is very convenient to get diverted." -Simran, 24 years old, MBA student
* We use pseudonyms to protect participant identities.
Methodology
Our process is 100% digitally driven. We connect with audiences online and use hybrid methods (qualitative and quantitative) to uncover their lived experiences. Learn more about our methodology here.
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