Blog entry by Sandhya Rajagopal

Picture of Sandhya Rajagopal
by Sandhya Rajagopal - Monday, 23 March 2020, 7:45 PM
Anyone in the world

There’s going to be a curfew on Sunday, here in Mumbai. My first thought - Grim. Curfews, lockdowns, empty beaches, ghostly theatres, capricious stock prices, people dropping sick like dead flies, Whatsapp drowning in messages, a definite first for me. Right at this moment, we in this world are in the midst of a crisis. The effects of the Corona virus is unprecedented. Behaviors have to change and protocols must be followed. A true test for the solidarity in effort by all humans.

And yet, cope we must. Time to Learn, find new ways, invent new paths.

I would like to share my thoughts on 4 ways in which the Corona will infect the realm of Learning and Development (L&D) and how we can create opportunities from these shifts in paradigm.

Because we have to e-work:  



    The trend in corporate learning is a Bolt towards apps and      learning anywhere, anytime. Elearning was a thing of the          future a decade ago. We have been fast forwarded, forced      to adopt it today. Corporate world is working from home        offices, education has been taken online and consumerism      has come down to clicks and credit cards.

    And the learning must go on.


WFH Image

 Some strategies can be implemented in the long term. Such as :

Transform all or major parts of classroom learning to online learning. Where there exists compulsion to blend in-person interactions with elearning, include virtual classrooms, file sharing, webinars, video conferences etc., in their place.

Increase online student interactions with peer students and instructors using technology solutions that can be a permanent forum for collaborative Learning.

Develop AI solutions to enrich content, provide a wide variety of learning experiences and learner interactions and to deliver effective learner support

Design a multitude of bite-sized courses for quick uptake and immediate application on the job.

Create a virtual platform to connect employees officially and otherwise.

Mobile-learning apps are the only way to retain the workforce of the future, even as you train and upskill them.

This article by a McKinsey consultant, has some useful tips too.


Because we have to home-school



It is BAU at my neighbors, the Sharma household. Aunty, a veteran math teacher is sitting in her wooden chair and 5 kids (batches have tripled but fewer children in each group, precautionary against corona) are sitting 3 feet from each other. No more elbow jousting for her students. Individual attention, Sharma teacher is able to do that now. Whether it is “Lightening Lakshmi” or “Turtle Tripathi”. They are all learning better. Parents are happier, willing to share the cost of the extra batches. Sharma Teacher the happiest of them all.


But picture this. Anu the e- Math teacher. On skype, projected on her 48 inch QLED TV in her living room, interacting with her class of 25. Possible ?

Very Possible! K-12 Edtech companies such as Byju and Khan Academy have exploded in their learning space, already very well prepared for a time like the present. If practiced cleverly even post-Corona times - congestions in schools, infrastructure constraints, admission limitations, lack of teachers – all can be addressed effectively and quality education provided to all children.  Extending this model to rural India is, then, only limited by bandwidth.

Kudos !  to BYJU’s, Unacademy, Vedantu, ViDU, Toppr, Impartus, Lido Learning and all others who are offering free online classes to Indian students to allow continuity in their education. Your initiative is much appreciated by parents, teachers and the education community as a whole.

 Because University closures are sending students back home 

For some countries this has an impact on its entire economy.

I read this article :

First it said “In the US, Chinese students make up over one third of all international students. In the UK, one-third of all non-EU students at British campuses are now from China. And in Australia, Chinese students make up 10 per cent of all students.”

Obviously Chinese students monopolize International education in these countries.

And then this:

“government data shows that international education contributed 37.6 billion Australian dollars to the Australian economy in the 2018-19 financial year and Chinese students specifically contributed $14.9 billion to the US economy in 2018.”

That’s a whopping 40% (almost) of income, from Chinese students. These students have been sent back and will be a while till they return. Or what if they won’t return.

  • Once again, Education Technology needs to step up to the challenge and make easily available all resources that a student on campus would access. So, online lectures, assessments, group projects, access to library resources and research material, social interactions, etc. They need to do more than just offer free classes to this group.
  • Coursera and edX are two learning companies in this space that provide University level education.  Existing online universities should develop and offer more courses, taking advantage of existing infrastructure.
  • Universities could move partially or wholly where possible,  to online medium even when the Pandemic has subsided since there are tremendous cost savings to be had and they could potentially still attract enrollments from International students residing in their own countries of domicile.

Because we have to tangentially realign our thinking about learning

We are at staring at the inevitable – Do I need to relearn Learning?

Without a doubt, yes !

This article in Forbes by Josh Bersin, titled “Watch out, Corporate Learning: Here comes disruption” (  

His one sentence summarizes the Blitzkrieg that has gripped the Corporate L & D Market:

“In only 15 years we've come from long, page-turning courses to a wide variety of videos, small micro-learning experiences, mobile apps, and intelligent, adaptive learning platforms.”

And this is just the Corporate sector.

  • The most significant skill for L&D providers in this constantly changing, highly demanding environment is adaptability. Being flexible to the voracious market.  For instance build reusable learning frameworks in the place of customized one time or one client learning solutions.Or, Create a multitude of micro-content which can be mixed and matched as longer programs. But first offered as independent “courses” themselves. I would call them learning bites where,  for example, a micro learning module of 15 minutes is offered on the “Stages in Project Management” but this same bite features as an introduction to this topic,  in a 2-hour full-fledged Project Management course. Learner with different needs can either take the micro module as a stand alone topic of learning or as a part of the course in its entirety.

  • The mammoth task of developing talent, skilling, reskilling and upskilling them is an organic outcome of the change in the learning scene. In that same Josh Bersin article, the evolution in learning since 1998, in formats, Philosophy, Users and Systems, puts us squarely in the age of Intelligent learning.

Fig 1: Evolution of Corporate Learning

[Fig 1: Evolution of Corporate Learning  ; BERSIN BY DELOITTE]

Image courtesy :

Vendors of tools for such Intelligent learning are rushing to build in areas such as: Learning experiences, Program (delivery) experiences, Micro learning, Assessments, Content libraries, LMS Platforms, etc.

Employees need to be able to use these tools but can spare no more than 24 minutes in a 24 hours day, to learning. Hence, Micro-learning.

But also mLearning or Mobile Learning. The ability to learn anywhere anytime is critical to a world, where being forced to sit glued in front of one device, gives way to procrastination and ultimately remains unused.

  • Course content and its design will also undergo 180 degree shift, having to cater to demands for µ- and m-learning modules. If speed is one imperative, learner engagement is another. This is where Gamification, case study learning method, interactions, simulations Animation, storytelling etc., come into play.
  • In parallel or perhaps in advance would be better, Bandwidth and Networking technologies need to expand several fold to allow for these possibilities in Learning, become realities. These especially, but also Learning technologies, User experience development, interactive capabilities, and other technologies that support Learning systems need to kick their heels and progress at the speed of light.

In conclusion:

With the havoc ensued from the Corona Virus afflictions, challenges are aplenty in the realm of Learning. But so are the opportunities. As they say “Necessity is the mother of Invention”. Let’s go Invent.

[ Modified: Monday, 23 March 2020, 7:48 PM ]