Browse our catalog of online courses that will help you develop new skills for your personal and professional growth.The reason I've been able to #BEAT2020 is the progress we’ve made at Harappa this year. What's been most exciting is the many insights we have gained about our learners–and about online learning itself! I’m sharing 20 insights to close out 2020 in a series called #TheFirstLearners, a nod to the year when so many became online learners for the first time.

Insight #16: An engaging online course is like a medley of elements—or a great Indian thali!

The holy grail of online learning is engagement. At Harappa, we’ve been deeply committed to ensuring high completion rates, as a key metric of engagement.

To make this happen, we knew that we would need to blend several elements together. We’ve had some very encouraging results for our business-to-business learners.

Our hypothesis that you need a range of features to appeal also seems to have been validated.

Here’s what our learners have liked most about Harappa courses (data from nearly 20,000 course completions) and the impact it has had on completion data.

  1. Thirty-three percent of all learners cited high-quality graphics and design as a standout feature (learners with this feedback finished their courses in 3 days)

  1. Thirty-two percent of enterprise learners said our stellar faculty was a big plus (learners with this feedback finished their courses in 5 days versus the average of 8 days)

  1. Twenty-seven percent of campus learners mentioned ‘ease of use’ of our platform (they completed their courses in 2 days)

  1. Storytelling-based content comes up as another key reason for high engagement (such learners complete courses in 2.5 days)

Insight #17: What Manufacturing wants: problem-solving, writing skills and beating Impostor Syndrome!

Within our enterprise segment, we most often work with companies in IT/ITeS, BFSI and Manufacturing. A very interesting set of skill preferences or aspiration skills has come up from learners in these three industry segments.

Let’s begin with Manufacturing.

  1. Twenty-seven percent of learners were keen to hone complex problem solving, with a specific need to adapt an existing solution to meet a new problem or to explore multiple solutions

  1. Twenty-three percent of learners (and 66% women learners!) want to learn how to adapt and defeat Imposter Syndrome

  1. Eighteen percent of learners wanted to improve their writing skills, with a specific emphasis on ‘customizing messaging, adding warmth and displaying brevity’. Written skills are especially highlighted for sales discussions, but as interestingly for roles like Auditors and Operations managers.

We’re surprised (and heartened!) by these skill preferences. 

Insight#18: BFSI & IT/ITeS want communication and leadership!

A follow-up from the previous insight: Within our enterprise segment, we most often work with companies in IT/ITeS, BFSI and Manufacturing. A very interesting set of skill preferences or aspiration skills has come up from learners in these three industry segments. We covered needs from Manufacturing yesterday.

Here are the top skill needs from IT/ITeS:

  1. Thirty-one percent of learners talked about people leadership, followed by personal leadership, showing a strong inclination towards managing and nurturing people rather than managing problems

  1. Forty-seven percent of learners talked about getting back on track after a major upset, such as lockdown

  1. Twenty-six percent of learners communicated a specific need to manage their feelings and help peers/reportees unpack their emotions

Here are the top skill needs from BFSI:

  1. Writing skills

  1. Real-life presentations skills

  1. Techniques to add speed while maintaining clarity of communication, for both verbal and written communication. Understanding body language, and desire to demonstrate authority, while being calm, compassionate and fun was highlighted by 21% of the learners

Insight#19: Clear difference in learning preferences across generations!

Learners between 18–22 years most prefer learning through collaboration with peers and experts. Fifty-eight percent of campus learners ask for:

  1. More real-life case studies to discuss with peers

  2. Opportunities to interact with faculty

  3. Peer review of assignments

Learners between 22–37 years most want learning to be customized to their individual needs. Forty percent of early and mid-career learners ask for:

  1. Personalized learning pathways

  2. Interaction with a faculty who has similar prior experience

  3. Feedback to remove material they won’t find useful and highlight only modules that will help them the most

Learners between 38–55 years aspire for high proficiency in learning so that it can help them contribute to direct revenue increase and social impact. Thirty-five percent of senior career learners ask for:

  1. Skills they need to meet market needs and customer expectations

  2. They react most positively to TA feedback, especially when their scores are low (heartening urge to know where gaps exist despite long careers!)

  3. Eagerness for industry case studies

Insight#20: Your learners meet your team first

It takes a team that has the heart of an educator and nurturer, and the mind of an innovator and builder, to establish a learning business. As much as we are nothing without our learners at Harappa, we are nothing without our teams. Our learners meet our team first too, whether it’s through our online learning support, or in live sessions: the passion for people and their potential has to be manifested as much in your pedagogy as in your team.

It’s the pride we never take for granted at Harappa.

With that, it’s the end of #thefirstlearners 20 insights on our learners from 2020. We hope it was useful and thought-provoking and will help you design better learning programs.

Special thanks to my peerless colleague Siya Sood for helping me get this series out, and everyone else at Harappa who has done so much this year!

Now, it’s time to #BeMoreDoMore in 2021! I wish you the greatest of joys: the camaraderie that comes with working with others on problems that mean something to the world.


Shreyasi Singh is the Founder & CEO of Harappa Education. She is committed to building and shaping initiatives that address India's massive education challenges, at scale.


Browse our catalog of online courses that will help you develop new skills for your personal and professional growth.

Related articles

Discover more from Harappa with a selection of trending blogs on the latest topics in online learning and career transformation