|Screengrab of Dr. Balaji Sampath explaining a concept in online Physics course|
Where do most high school students spend a large part of their day? If you thought they spent it at school or tuition, think again! They spend most of their time on the road, traveling from home to school to home to tuition class and back home everyday. Some even travel 15 kilometers in peak traffic, wasting 3 hours to attend a 2 hour coaching class! Well, that is changing now, thanks to a new start-up which is disrupting decades old coaching and tuition centers market with its on-demand coaching classes.
This education start-up, www.AhaGuru.com, a pioneer in online coaching, provides training courses completely online. From IIT-JEE, NEET to CBSE, it covers Physics, Chemistry and Math courses from class 9 to 12. Their best seller is the full year course, which is modelled exactly like a classroom with an expert teacher explaining the key concepts and showing how to solve different types of questions. This is then followed by a lot of practice questions that the student has to do. Each question also has a video solution. With thousands of videos explaining each subject in depth, students are able to learn from the comfort of their homes, at a time convenient to them.
While most online coaching companies focus on providing practice tests, AhaGuru focuses on concept understanding and building problem-solving skills. A lot of research has gone into developing new techniques to address common misconceptions and to make problem-solving easy.
Even students who go to other classroom coaching centers take up the AhaGuru online courses as they are able to learn concepts much more deeply.
When asked whether students will be willing to exchange the classroom style coaching for online courses, Dr. Balaji Sampath, CEO of AhaGuru emphatically said, “Absolutely we are seeing a growing number of students making a switch to completely online coaching. There are multiple benefits for the students from cutting down 8 to 10 hours of commute per week, not worried about missing a topic as courses are on demand and can be taken in their preferred time when they are relaxed and most attentive. Most importantly, it allows them to go back and revise topics any number of times as needed.”
When an ex-student was asked how useful the online course was, Nithin Seyon Ramesan, of IIT Madras said, “AhaGuru online course was the major reason for my good scores in the Physics papers of JEE (Mains) and IIT JEE (Advanced). In particular, I will always remember the depth to which I understood the concepts of Relative Motion and Newton’s Laws”. Nithin scored All India Rank 3 in JEE Mains 2013. Incidentally, Dr. Balaji himself is an IITian and had scored All India Rank of 4 in IIT JEE 1990.
“We see a recent clear trend in students preferring online over classroom coaching. Students purchasing online coaching has doubled from last year and almost all of them have already renewed their course subscriptions for the next year. We are also expecting several thousand new students purchasing the full year online courses this year” said Gomathi Dhamodharan, Director of AhaGuru. “Apart from Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Coimbatore, Trichy, Patna, Mumbai and many other Indian cities, what is interesting is that we also have students from many other countries including US, UK, Europe and Middle-east who have purchased our courses.”
AhaGuru has also launched a free mobile app that gives daily practice questions with video solutions that ensures students are always prepared. The app is used by a large number of students from many different countries and can be downloaded from the Google Playstore by searching for AhaGuru. Recently a doubt clearing feature has been added into the app for students who have purchased the online courses. AhaGuru’s Facebook page is also very popular among students as it posts science quiz questions and interesting factoids daily.
This trend of learning online is likely to spread in cities first before reaching small towns and villages due to infrastructure issues like internet speeds and connectivity. However, in the long term, online coaching services like AhaGuru will be even more useful for small town and village students who do not have access to the best teachers and coaching centers that their city counterparts have access to. If the Government’s Digital India initiative addresses the connectivity issue, we could see this trend growing in rural areas sooner than we might expect.
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