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Why EdTech should be taken seriously

Posted on Thursday 9 May 2019

The education technology (EdTech) sector: why economic development agencies should take it seriously.

“Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers is transformational.”

George Couros, Leading educator in the area of innovative leadership, teaching and learning

Whilst there is still some resistance to the use of EdTech in some quarters of education, generally the battle for the idea of using technology for teaching and administration has been won.  The actual implementation in reality, however, is somewhat further away in many parts of academic institutions, and take-up is often piecemeal.  Schools and universities are struggling with legacy systems, a lack of content, budgetary constraints, pressure from government authorities to implement new systems and, in the case of tertiary education, a paradigm shift towards online courses.  YC Felin, COO of Finnish immersive storyworld platform company Lyfta comments:

“Schools are eager to buy hardware, especially mobile, then they realise they need content. What will we do with the hardware? Before they can read, children are already using media content with phones and tablets. They are both consuming knowledge and creating content themselves. How can teachers develop this?”

For schools and colleges, changing teachers’ mindsets is still a major issue:

“Buying EdTech is the easy part of any implementation. What’s hard and most important, is pedagogical change.” (Thomas Murray, @thomascmurray)

Fast market growth

The global EdTech market was estimated at USD 17.7 billion in revenue in 2017, and is projected to grow to USD 40.9 billion by 2022, a CAGR of 18.3% (‘Growth Opportunities in the Education Technology Market – Forecast to 2022’, Frost & Sullivan, December 2017.)  HolonIQ suggest the market will be worth USD 10 trillion by 2030 (https://www.holoniq.com/2030/).  Theylist 10 companies that are already Unicorns (tech companies with a market value of USD 1 billion+) and believe over USD 3 billion to have been invested in these companies over the last 5 years.  Tracxn.com states there are almost 14,500 EdTech startups worldwide (February 2019), and according to Crunchbase, 728 EdTech startups were responsible for 1,498 funding rounds worth USD 6.5 billion (www.crunchbase.com March 2019).  

Dominance of Asia

Crunchbase estimates that the Chinese EdTech sector will grow by 20% annually, and Google and KPMG released estimates for India that suggest its market will grow more than 6 times to USD 1.6 billion over the next 4 years.  The sheer numbers of young people in the Indian, Chinese and Indonesian education systems will ensure that these markets dominate global EdTech growth in the future, compounded by the importance placed on education by parents in these countries and the massive investments being pumped into Edtech and digital infrastructure by their governments.

Factors driving growth

Major international online learning vendors include Google, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, edX and Byju’s, and the market is growing fast, and will continue to grow, as educators take the plunge for more aspects of their activity.  The EdTech startup scene is buzzing globally and companies are able to grow rapidly in this sector through e-commerce and high levels of venture capital investment.  For examples of cross-border projects and jobs created, email us at Contact@MCJLemagnen.com.

Market growth is being driven by multiple factors including the desire to cater for learning at the individual student level and improve interactivity in the classroom, the need for efficiencies in back office departments, and education authorities keen to equip children for a future workplace that cannot yet be visualized.  Clare Pelling, Learning Experience Manager at UK education and training provider The College of West Anglia says:

“Technology is vital to help us deliver our vision to prepare our learners for the modern work place, helping them to develop the resilience, skills and digital competencies to enable them to thrive and contribute to modern Britain. Techniques such as flipped classroom and blended learning has a key role in allowing us to meet these demands.”

Growth is also being driven by parents investing in their children’s enrichment with English language learning platforms and extra-curricular courses such as MOOCs (massive open online courses) – this is a particularly fast growing sector in Asia.  In primary and secondary education there is enormous growth in online learning in emerging economies globally.  At all levels of education, there is includes local and regional expansion as well as cross-border investment into and out of these economies.  The corporate training market is another key area, where, for example, virtual reality simulations can replace or enhance the learning experience.  As you might expect, STEM subjects are moving at a quick pace in introducing technology such as game-based modules, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. 

The UK leads Europe

The UK is first in Europe for venture capital and angel investing in EdTech (Techworld.com December 2018), accounting for 34% of total investment in the sector (The Guardian 2017).  Schools spend around £900 million per annum on EdTech and around a quarter of Europe’s EdTech companies (1,200 firms) are based in the UK (Education Technology magazine 2017).  In April 2019, the UK government announced £10 million for an Education Technology strategy via partnerships with innovative companies with the aim of reducing teacher workloads, raising student attainment and improving outcomes for pupils with special needs and disabilities.  The UK’s exports in this sector are worth an estimated £170 million to the UK economy.

EdTech supporting the talent pool

We know from our recent report Rise of the Unicorns how critical a talent pool is for companies, and how much of a challenge this already is. EdTech will play a key role in preparing students with the professional skills and emotional intelligence needed for future jobs. 

Increased digital activity will require academic institutions to have a secure and robust IT infrastructure with well-qualified support people in senior positions within the institution, which many institutions (especially in higher education and amongst emerging economies) currently lack. This will drive growth in hardware, software and services, including cybersecurity.  As increasing investments flow into the EdTech sector and competition increases, the costs of online tuition will decrease, leading to greater take-up.  Challenges in this market include long sales cycles and the different characteristics of individual national education systems. 

All in all, given the fast growth of this market and its likely impact on local and national government as well as society in general, EdTech is a sector which investment promotion and economic development agencies should now be taking seriously.

Issues and some sources for further reading and debate

  • Gamification of learning and use of virtual reality, AI and drones in both classroom teaching and professional development.
  • Cloud collaboration and peer coaching tools used in the classroom.
  • Free digital learning resources e.g. TEDLinkedIn LearningYouTube.
  • Cyber security for education providers including data protection and child protection issues.
  • Real-time student feedback during lessons.
  • Curriculum analytics to provide data and knowledge to support teaching and learning.
  • The need for digital champions in educational institutions to drive change and implementation.
  • Blended learning and flipped classroom – a shift to a learner-centred approach.
  • Campus chatbots to answer student enquiries, e.g. at Bolton Collegein the UK.
  • Society for Education and Training (UK) – Further Education professional body.
  • Education and Training Foundation (UK) – Further Education body – Digital Teaching Professional Framework, Enhance Digital Teaching Programme and EdTech Strategy 2018-2021.
  •  IBM’s Watson Studio for machine learning in EdTech.
  • TechCrunch – EdTech pages for company and investment news.
  • Information Age – education pages.
  • EdTech Update.

List of EdTech companies

To receive a free list of over 50 interesting EdTech companies around the world, including information on their international expansion and funding, email Contact@MCJLemagnen.com.

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Author: Julia Lemagnen, Co-Founder & Director, MCJ Lemagnen Associates Ltd

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