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BW Businessworld

'Vanilla B-Tech and MBA degrees Losing Value': Vikas Gupta, Wiley India

Wiley, a global leader in Education, Research, Publishing and Corporate Learning, has quickly responded to the pandemic by implementing digital sales strategies to leverage the shift to digital. It is offering customized print and eBooks and much more Vikas Gupta, MD, Wiley India tells ASHISH SINHA of BW Businessworld. Edited Excerpts:

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What shift do you see in the publishing industry landscape, particularly in the domain where WILEY operates in the world that we assume will coexist with Covid situation?

Among the major changes led by the pandemic is the adoption of digital that is evolving to be a mainstream-mode of teaching and learning. The lockdown pushed the universities to part away from their traditional mode of teaching and embrace online education. This has impacted university enrollments with an estimated decline of 15-20 percent. In order to align effective educational strategy with the rapidly changing scenario, universities are now increasingly demanding for digital learning solutions which include labs, courseware and e-books. Due to the ongoing pandemic there is no clarity on government advisory on return to the campuses thus stay at home learning is driving the need for digital courseware. 

How much India is prepared to re-skill, up-skill and learn new technologies?  

The evolving technologies have disrupted the nature of jobs and the skills required to do them even before the pandemic. The pandemic, however, has made this concern more pertinent. The pace at which technology is evolving is leading towards the development of new machines which will drive the future of work. Therefore, technologies such as IoT, AI, and VR/AR, and delivery models such as Device-as-a-Service essential to keep up with the smart workspace’s requirement of mobility, flexibility, and connectivity. It is more about how professionals can up-skill themselves and universities can reimagine themselves to prepare students for Industry 4.0. As the current moto of our country is swaying towards Atmanirbhar Bharat, public and private partnership is required in providing training and ensuring employability of the workforce. 

How is Wiley gearing up to capitalize on the new market imperative? 

The socio and economic challenges posed by the pandemic provided us with an opportunity to find patterns in the chaos. With surge in adoptions of E-Books and growing impetus on digital library, we implemented the strategy for developing digital courseware bundles for universities. New models are also created for Test prep e-content for students with multi-year access to e-Books. 

Then by using WileyNXT, an award-winning and innovative learning solution designed to bridge the skill gap for the jobs of tomorrow. At WileyNXT, we have effectively transitioned the learning model from conceptual to a contextual model, as the relevant skills and employability framework is rapidly changing as per the industry needs of today.  

Then through Zybooks. The need of the hour is to tap the real power of the web for teaching and learning. To cater this, we launched Zybooks, that uses less text and more action. Rather than long descriptions, zyBooks emphasize question sets, animations, interactive tools, and embedded homework. Students learn by doing, which many learning experts agree is the most effective educational strategy. 

Wiley has a strong presence in Research. Wiley partners with over 850 societies to provide 16 million scientists and scholars with the resources they need. Our goal is to support researchers and share their knowledge. We are now providing research related to Covid–19 at no cost to guide our scientific community. 

What kind of business focus Wiley has in the higher education segment? 

The emphasis of 21st century lies on fast paced adaptation of constant change and disruptions. We have witnessed a tidal shift in not only creating innovating channels of learning but also changing our approach towards knowledge acquisition. Vanilla BTech and MBA degrees are losing its value paving way for domain expertise who are billable from day1. Organizations are also seeking for micro-credits or dual degrees that are combined with industry credentials such as STEM masters, which is a break from conventional learning models. With WileyNXT we are driving the future of learning towards a technology enabled hyper-personalization model, that integrates conceptual and contextual learning to ensure future-ready talent. 

While students at higher education campuses will be able to quickly navigate through new platforms, what about traditional campus- based universities? How adaptive are they? 

We have observed that remote learning has been successful at the graduate level and above however, at the undergraduate level there is a scope for a hybrid model, campus presence along with online learning. The pandemic has contributed to the surge of Edtech players in India, leading to 9.5 MN e-learning users by 2021.This current surge is proving to be essential as it helps in - making complex topics easier to understand through apps and animated lessons, allow students in far flung areas to access to quality of education and enable irregular students gain affordable diplomas or degrees. Therefore the universities now have an opportunity to re-align their pedagogy as per Industry 4.0 and adapt to fast paced technological disruption through collaborating with Edtech players. 

How is Wiley helping higher education campuses to make the learning more engaging considering that our lecturers were used to physical classes? 

Wiley through its offerings- WileyNXT and Zybooks, is empowering faculty to deliver the best learning with case studies technology support, delivery support and library support. The future is in using technology to deliver quality instructor led programs with high engagement levels, learner remediation and continuous assessment. Our methodology at WileyNXT puts the learner at the core with byte size learning topics, ample practice questions, simulated labs and real-world practice problems. Continuous assessments to track the growth and deliver remediation to every student. Instead of end of course exams, we have implemented it module wise, so that, both mentor and learner can assess and improve the learning outcome. 

What kind of research-based module Wiley has developed to address this disruption? Are these global or customized to suit Indian education sector?  

Currently, India is grappling with the gap between learning and employability skills. According to the Employability Survey 2019, 80% of Indian engineers remain unfit for knowledge-based roles and around 4.6% of Indian job applicants possess good coding skills. To address this challenge, Wiley has co-created trainings with the industry to fill the skill gap of entry level graduates. We have adopted over 800 business problems into our curriculum to train students for different job roles in the real world. 

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