By Manan Khurma, founder, Cuemath
During the last several decades, adopting technology has helped catapult the global business community forward. Individuals and companies have embraced technology to stay connected and make our lives and jobs easier. However, much of our non-business activity has still focused on in-person interactions: learning, live entertainment, community experiences and in-store purchases. Given the health and safety challenges presented by COVID-19, more activities are leaning into digital channels and applications in ways that will have a profound impact on the world of tomorrow.
The global community needs to rethink how and where technology is applied outside the business realm. Technology-enabled education is moving to the forefront of many conversations. This evolution of learning will impact what education looks and feels like going forward. But, more importantly, getting omnichannel learning right will be the basis for developing our future employees, teachers, entrepreneurs and consumers who will drive the global economy. The lessons learned will, in turn, be applied to businesses to create a stronger, more effective digital-first economy.
Rise of the omnichannel approach
The pandemic normal has proven challenging for industries primarily focused on offline models. Before 2020, retailers were slowly shifting from brick-and-mortar ecosystems to an omnichannel system that experienced immense growth driven by e-commerce. Enterprise workplaces were operating in distributed or hybrid environments, but with a strong emphasis on in-person work environments. During the initial phase of COVID-19 lockdowns, Generation Alpha (born 2010-2024) and Generation Z (born 1995-2009) were forced to quickly shift to online-only school models. While these students were experienced technology users, they were not experienced remote learners, and many had never encountered fully online learning. K-12 education had largely followed a single-channel, in-person model.
Fast forward 18 months. The global community has seen a sharp rise in edtech players offering online and afterschool programs to help children bridge the pandemic learning gap. Their rise has disrupted the education industry, paving a path toward a potential future of learning. This space is highly competitive and rapidly growing. Edtech companies have developed unique online approaches that pair with what in-person or formal school systems are doing. And companies like Cuemath, that have attracted innovative and forward-looking backers such as Google, show that they are moving education in the right direction.
But a successful omnichannel or online learning approach must teach visually and focus on real-world examples, rather than the more abstract theories common in conventional teaching platforms and traditional education environments. Demonstrating how a concept works in practice, and relaying it in digestible snippets, yields a deeper, more intuitive understanding and grasp of complex concepts such as math and coding. Gamifying the experience for students with age-appropriate visuals also adds to the fun of learning concepts, potentially creating generations of students who will embrace math, rather than shy away from it.
Lessons from omnichannel learning
According to two reports from the World Bank, Remote Learning During the Global School Lockdown: Multi-Country Lessons and Remote Learning During COVID-19: Lessons from Today, Principles for Tomorrow, remote learning is here to stay. The reports also reaffirm several key components Cuemath embraces for omnichannel learning. Based on company interactions with students, future generations will not move toward either online or in-person-only behaviors but a mix of both. To successfully embrace and utilize omnichannel learning across any organization, consider these approaches that have been shown to be successful in delivering omnichannel learning:
- Use digital channels to enhance engagement. Online engagements must be interactive, not passive. Online delivery should not only offer digital content and documents. Consider establishing two-way interactions. Connecting with real teachers using online video has translated into positive outcomes for remote-learning students. But it is not just children who have short attention spans. The more interactive and engaging you make your digital experiences, the more likely you are to hold your audience’s attention.
- Tap into the power of data. The use of data-driven personalization in business optimization will become critically important. This has become clear in after-school education where curriculum must be designed for each student’s skill level and style of learning. Having the right data allows for personalized content or experiences to meet customer or other stakeholder needs. Without it, your consumers may lack motivation, be less likely to complete an action or seek need fulfillment from another company.
- Be flexible and consistent. One important element of omnichannel learning is the ability to reinforce concepts online that were introduced in-person while offering a range of flexible learning approaches. It’s the same in business. Where, when and how customers interact with a company will perpetually shift. But the experience they have with your brand – regardless of channel – must be consistent. Lean into each channel and its unique features but deliver a consistent experience.
It’s likely that education will never return to the fully in-person model that existed before 2020. And future generations of students will grow up being completely comfortable in an omnichannel world – whether learning, shopping or working. These K-12 and college students will soon be the employees, teachers, entrepreneurs and consumers of tomorrow. Businesses must start adapting now to deliver the seamless omnichannel experiences others will expect, or risk losing out to the companies that get it right.
Manan Khurma is the founder of Cuemath, a global, one-on-one online personalized math tutoring service accredited by STEM.org. Cuemath has been used by more than 200,000 students across 20+ countries, giving K-12 students a solid foundation in math, coding and logic to create the independent thinkers and invincible problem solvers we need to fill future STEM careers. The Bangalore-based company is backed by Sequoia Capital and Alphabet’s CapitalG.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.