HarukaEdu is identifying and aiming to solve the problems of higher education in Indonesia, with online education solutions.

HarukaEdu online education

The lack of higher educational institutions, high cost in setting up universities and the fact that most of the fastest growing cities are situated outside of the main Java island in Indonesia makes e-learning the perfect solution for higher education in the country.

The opportunities are many. According to last year’s McKinsey Global Institute report, PT. Haruka Edukasi Utama co-founder and CEO Novistiar Rustandi revealed that, “private higher education revenue in Indonesia will grow five-fold from US$3 billion in 2010 to US$15 billion in 2030. Internet users in Indonesia will reach 100 million by 2016, which makes us fifth largest in the world.”

A deeper look at the report also revealed that, “In 2011, out of 2.9 million college applicants, only 1.1 million accepted partly due to lack of capacity to provide higher education to new high school graduates. If this problem is not solved, by 2030, there would be under supply of college educated workers by 2 million […] To meet the future demand of college educated workers, Indonesia will need 60 new universities. However, building a conventional university costs a lot.”

As it’s highlighted, there are more cities outside of Java that are growing faster than rest of the islands. Meanwhile, most of Indonesia’s educated individuals and professionals resides in the Greater Area of Jakarta. Therefore finding competent, good calibre lecturers within those areas of growth is challenging.

Novistiar, nicknamed Novis, and his team believes that online education is one of the potential solutions to resolve these problems in higher education space. But, on the other hand, “It is not easy for universities to offer quality online degrees as it requires a lot of investments. For example, MIT and Harvard invested US$60 million to bring their class rooms online. As a result, more colleges partner with for-profit web-based educators such as 2U, Coursera, Udacity, and edX,” the Jakarta Founder Institute Director adds.

Their company, HarukaEdu, provides solutions for universities to offer quality online degrees with minimum investment and risk through end-to-end service from student recruitment, digital courseware development, operational supports, job placement, and IT infrastructure.

HarukaEdu’s vision is to provide a brighter future for Indonesians through quality, affordable, accessible, and social online education. The solution is tailored and developed for the Indonesian market and works both online and offline. While compliant with international standard (in this case SCORM and PCI DSS), HarukaEdu is also accessible through various platforms – desktop, tablet and mobile. They use similar methods utilized by MOOC technology companies.

Back by seed funding from angel investors, they are currently looking for another round of investment. “We are looking for investors who have great interest and experience in education, especially higher education. International angels, venture capital or strategic investors are welcomed. The capital injection will be used to cover our IT infrastructure development, digital content development, operating, and marketing costs.”

With regards to their current progress, Novistiar explains, “Since our product is still in early development stage, we haven’t aggressively sold it. However, we are in continuous discussion with several universities to introduce our concept and listen to their needs and feedback. So far, we received very positive responses from them.”

When asking about how they differ with educational technology companies offering massive open online courses, he responded, “We design and develop our solutions based on local needs and requirements and to overcome local challenges. For example, higher education in Indonesia is highly regulated and we want to ensure our solutions will meet those regulations. Having said that, we also benchmark with products developed by more mature startups to ensure we deliver high quality solutions that follow international best practices.”

Aside from local needs and requirements, social networking tools are also key. This might be considered small features but for those that have enrolled for online courses, on Coursera for instance, would have realised its importance. “Many of those MOOCs do not have enough social networking tools to build a healthy interaction between students and their professors,” observed Novistiar. Perhaps, social isn’t a big deal for online education platforms? However, MOOC participants could still leverage on web-based forums to facilitate discussion. Teachers and lecturers in Indonesia usually take the initiative to form Facebook groups or Google+ communities in order to bring the discussion further, even after the course has ended.

To encourage better learning, the courses on HarukaEdu is delivered through a variety of methods. It allows student to do self-study, both for online and on-the-go courses, either through online streaming or offline through their various devices. Downloadable lecture materials have made the site more flexible and being SCROM compliant opens the door for courseware sharing with foreign universities.

The online education platform also accommodates team study for project-based assignment during online and on-site course sessions. This highly encourages interaction between lecturers and other students (pre-, during and post- online and on-site course sessions) as well as so called “on-site” final exams.

Free courses are set to launch this December with hundred of attendees expected to join in. HarukaEdu plans to kick-off online degree programs early next year.