“Let’s Make Learning Process More Personalized, Adaptive And Easily Accessible”

shares Ramananda SG, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Pearson India in conversation with All About Book Publishing. Excerpts.


Pearson has emerged as a leading presence in Indian publishing. Their higher education catalogue includes learning solutions by highly qualified Indian teachers as well as the most recognized international books, tailored to suit Indian students and syllabuses. While, their school division provides a wide range of services – from textbooks to teacher training – to over 10,000 of the top schools in the country. Here, Ramananda SG, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Pearson India shares more about their market of higher education and K-12 books in India.

AABP: How would you describe the market for Higher Education Books in India?

Ramananda: The Higher Education sector in India is one of the largest in the world and the need to remain up-to-date with globally-applicable knowledge and skill sets is imperative for the learners here. While textbooks are of vital importance for the students, recent trends show that more and more graduates today are shifting to more online and digital resources.

Given the potential the segment offers, we aim to prepare students to compete in the ever-changing and uncertain future economy by using technology more effectively and making it more personal. We strive to create a balance between textual pedagogy and digital learning solutions by providing high quality college textbooks, interactive tools, teacher support material to meet the needs & requirements of both the faculty and the 21st century learners.

AABP: Print books v/s online- what is the balance between sales to the higher education market and is this changing?

Ramananda: India is one of the very few countries in the world where we are witnessing a growth in the sales of print publications. While the demand for digital materials is increasing gradually, there is still a stable demand for print resources. Though the industries are going digital but physical books will always hold an important value and outsell e-books. For this reason, we are employing a strategy that balances our exposure in print along with the growth in digital space, to cater to the needs of all kinds of learners.

AABP: How does distribution work for higher education?

Ramananda: Majority of the distribution is done through direct selling to the distributors with a very minimal interaction with colleges/ universities. However, a small part of the selling also takes place through direct selling to the institutions, on a regular basis. The majority of the selling takes place from April to July.

AABP: What are your views on the draft National Education Policy?

Ramananda: A careful scrutiny of the draft NEP 2019 shows that the policy aims to revolutionize the education structure by making it more liberalized and outcome oriented, so that learners at all levels can benefit and become more productive in the academic sphere. A lot of emphasis has been placed on imbibing the learners with 21st century skills, induction of technology and digital learning tools, focus on critical thinking skills and technical and vocational education concept- based curriculum and so on. All this will lead to a holistic development of learners and enable India to become an academically achieving nation.

AABP: How would you describe the market for K-12 Books in India, both for public schools and for international/private schools?

Ramananda: The K-12 books market in India is quite big with huge demand coming in from the students and parents for quality resources and study material. While many students have started harnessing the “digital” tools to keep pace with the technological revolution but Indian learners are equally keen on publications. The textbooks still hold huge importance for the young learners in our country, both in the public & private schools and hence it will play an important role for many years to come.

As per a report by FICCI, the K-12 Indian book market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 19.6 percent to INR 541.9 billion by 2019-20 from INR 221.7 billion in 2014-15. Also, in recent years, the government’s focus on digital learning and literacy in schools will help the private publishers to gear up to provide e-content to schools linked to the curriculum to help students better understand concepts by learning in an interactive and visual way. With the digitization and emergence of new technologies, there will be continued, sustained and supported growth in the Indian K-12 market.

AABP: What challenges you face as a K12 publisher?

Ramananda: Most of the challenges are industry specific and are faced by the education sector as a whole. Affordability and accessibility of quality education still remains a big problem in most parts of the country and students struggle to get the required skills which are critical for a 21st century learner.

For this purpose, we are constantly looking at how we can develop and deliver learning solutions that are more relevant, more accessible and technologically driven, to ensure better learning at all levels. We have been aiming to give learners a wider access to learning through digital and online platforms, inculcate global expertise, provide the learners with diverse learning resources, high quality textbooks to enhance employability and enable lifelong learning.

AABP: How does distribution work for the K-12 market?

Ramananda: Generally, the distribution process involves interacting with the schools, principals and HODs -to showcase them the books and resources. Most of the schools generally have a lot of publishers’ books to choose from and once an order is made, the selling takes place through the respective distributor.

AABP: How do you feel the K-12 market will change over the next 10 years, especially with digital vs print?

Ramananda: As we see it, the digital revolution is unleashing everywhere around us. We can certainly say that in about 10 years, schools & universities will start appreciating the power of tech-driven disruption. It is a trend they see intensifying with the rise of new age technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation.

With EdTechs transforming and reshaping the future of learning, there is a high demand from the learners for digital content. It is safe to say that in the coming years, the K-12 market will become much more affordable, accessible, and effective for the students, who will be able to get access to study materials quickly via online digital platforms.

AABP: What are your views on market growth for India? Which format, delivery of content or types of content will be demanded?

Ramananda: Recent trends suggest that most of the content that will be demanded in the near future, will be digital, new age, joboriented and in sync with industry demands. The greatest challenge – and opportunity – facing the Indian market today is the lifelong growth and learning that is being demanded out of all of us, as we tackle the challenges of education affordability, access, and employability.

For this reason, Pearson is adopting newer technologies and developing digital curricula to build a future-ready generation and foster concept-based learning. It is making the learning process more personalized, adaptive and easily accessible to provide lifelong learning and better employment opportunities.

Pearson Virtually Upskills
Over 500 Teachers During covid-19

According to UNESCO report, over 290 million students across 22 countries will be impacted due to the coronavirus pandemic. In such a scenario, virtual learning comes to rescue but it also poses certain challenges for educators who are not proficient in online teaching methodology. Hence, to break this barrier and aid both teachers and students, Pearson, the world’s leading learning company has taken the initiative to upskill teachers in online teaching techniques. Pearson conducted pan-India online training sessions for over 500 teachers across 30 schools, empowering them to use online learning platforms and teach students digitally during this critical time. Important topics like Lesson Planning, Strategies to improve Reading and Writing skills in English, Interactive strategies to teach Science and Social Science, Strategies to make Mathematics learning (Fun)tastics, Phonics, How to plan and execute an online class in an engaging and interactive manner etc. were covered during these sessions.

The company has also announced free access to ‘ActiveApp’ – Pearson’s unique interactive digital experience mobile app – to support teachers with training resources. The app offers interactive learning to students through e-books, videos, activities, games and animations, empowering them to learn easily, in fun and engaging way. The benefits of the app also include anytime anywhere access, user friendly interface, self-paced learning and quick recapitulation.

Ramananda SG, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Pearson India, said, “The restrictions on mobility, owing to the lockdown, have created a gap between students and teachers, impacting the learning of children at schools and other educational institutions. Our efforts are aimed at easing the challenges being faced by educators in teaching over digital modes of learning, especially in Tier 2 cities. These sessions will empower educators and students in continuing their learning curve and ensure proper utilization of their time. Additionally, access to Active- App will support parents in keeping their children engaged in learning, as they juggle between working from home and managing household chores. Our endeavor is to support teachers and parents at this critical time by ensuring continuity of learning for children.”

Amazon Alexa Becomes
New Destination To Learn English

Pearson India has introduced an interactive skill on Amazon Alexa for students and learners of all age groups to learn English. The Pearson MyPedia skill offers a collection of engaging stories coupled with fun facts, trivia, quizzes and rewards. The interactive format of the skill can help improve English vocabulary, listening, speaking, comprehension, and storytelling. To get started say “Alexa, open MyPedia”, or simply “Alexa, I want to learn English”.

The MyPedia skill is designed to enhance the interest of students in the English language. The stories used in the skill can inspire them to be authors and be imaginative while writing in English. The skill’s simple voice interface can enable students to learn in an interactive manner, at their own pace. The MyPedia skill can be accessed on all Amazon Echo smart speakers, Echo Show smart displays, as well as the Alexa app for smartphones.

‘MyPedia Reader’ is a story book, a guide and a game book for learners to enable them to be more imaginative while writing their stories in the English language. It shares rich and diverse stories by students stemming from their own experiences, issues and aspirations. Thus, it will provide a holistic approach for students to build their language skills from home, for greater goals outside academic achievements. In the current lockdown situation, as students spend more time at home, the MyPedia Alexa skill can help them make the most of this unique learning environment.

“Considering the current scenario, it is our endeavour to support students of all age-groups by providing rich content and environment, to enhance imagination and creativity amongst students,” said Ramesh Subbarao, Vice President – Portfolio, South Asia, Pearson. “The combination of interactive learning and the simplicity of voice interactions with Alexa will make this a fun experience for users of all age groups”, said Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager for Alexa Experiences and Devices, Amazon India.

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