The ongoing pandemic has made online education both important and necessary. With schools and coaching institutes closed in most parts of the country online courses and coaching centres have expanded exponentially in the last two years. From coaching for competitive exams to school tuitions, everything is being offered online these days. Along with these, there are also several online certifications and courses that EdTech companies offer. Government has recently issued an advisory to parents and students about these companies. “It has come to the notice of the Department of School Education and Literacy that some ed-tech companies are luring parents in the garb of offering free services and getting the Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) mandate signed or activating the Auto-debit feature, especially targeting the vulnerable families,” says the advisory. Keeping the same in view, the government has issued a list of do’s and Don’ts that it wants parents and student to follow while enrolling for online courses and coaching.
Not to do: Automatic debit option for payment of subscription fee
Some ed-tech companies may offer the Free-Premium business model where a lot of their services might seem to be free at first glance but to gain continuous learning access, students have to opt for a paid subscription. Activation of auto-debit may result in a child accessing the paid features without realizing that he/she is no longer accessing the free services offered by the institute.
Not to do: Not to sign up for any loans till they are sure
The advisory asks parents not to sign up for any loans that they are not well aware of or sure of.
Not to do: Install any ed-tech app without knowing
Do not install any mobile ed-tech app without verifying its authenticity.
Not to do: Credit/debit cards registration on apps for subscriptions
Avoid credit/debit cards registration on apps for subscriptions. In case you need to do, place an upper limit on expenditure per transaction.
Not to do: Do not share any personal videos and photos
Teach the kid to use caution against turning on the video feature or getting on video calls on an unverified platform. These can be misused.
Not to do: Subscribe to unverified courses
Do not subscribe to unverified courses based on tall promises. Use your common sense. Never trust the “Success stories” shared by the ed-tech companies without proper check as they might be a trap to gather more students.
Not to do: Avoid in-app purchases of course material or other course content
Do not go for in-app purchases of course materials or content. In case, really required go for OTP based payment methods.
Not to do: Share bank account details and OTP number
Never ever share your bank account details and OTP number with any marketing personnel. This may lead to cyber frauds. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
To do: Properly read the terms and conditions
Do read the terms and conditions properly before acknowledging the acceptance of learning software/device as your IP address and/or personal data may be tracked.
Ask for a tax invoice statement for the purchase of educational devices loaded with contents/app purchase/Pendrive learning.
To do: Background check of the institute
Do a detailed background check of the ed-tech company that you want to subscribe to. Verify the quality of the content provided by the ed-tech companies and make sure that it is in line with the syllabus and your scope of study.
To do: Clarify all your doubts/questions regarding the fee
Clearly clarify all your doubts/questions regarding the fee payment and content before investing any amount.
To do: Activate parental controls and safety features on the device your kid is using
Make sure you activate parental controls and safety features on the device or in the app or browser as it helps restrict access to certain content and limit spending on app purchases.
To do: Tell your child that some features in education apps are used to encourage more spending
Help your child understand that some features in education apps are used to encourage more spending and may really offer the benefits promised. Talk to them about possible marketing strategies used by education institutes.
To do: Record the evidence of spam calls/forced signup for any education packages
Try recording the evidence of spam calls/forced signup for any education packages without complete consent for filing a grievance.