The world’s first public schools date all the way back to ancient times. And while trends, philosophies, policies and institutions have come and gone since then, a surprising amount stayed the same through the millennia. However, technological advancements — and digital technology, in particular — have ushered in an entirely new era for educational delivery. For the entrepreneurially-minded, meanwhile, this ongoing shift represents a wide-open field of opportunities. Just how important is education technology (AKA “edtech”) and what does it mean for everyone from investors to students? Here’s a closer look.
EdTechReview defines edtech as “a study and ethical practice for facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.” In more specific term, this means using technology-based products and tools to enhance how students learn and how teachers teach. It’s not about superseding current approaches, but instead out determining how technology can improve and enhance the delivery of education.
Given the meteoric ascent of everything from computer-aided classrooms to online learning over the past two decades you may be thinking to yourself, “But wait — that’s nothing new.” And you’re right, edtech has already transformed the educational sector. But insiders argue that we’ve only seen an inkling of what’s still to come. Reports one Hot Topics article on edtech, “As we witnessed the digitization of the media industry via the profusion of new content, audience fragmentation, data centricity and the convergence between content and platform players, so will they impact the education market, leading to a raft of opportunities for innovators in edtech.”
Indeed, much of the conversation about edtech surrounds its tremendous potential for innovators and investors in this red-hot industry, and with good reason: Between the massive education market — between $4.5 and $5 trillion USD annually and predicted to reach up to $7 trillion within the next couple of years, according to data from Worlds of Education — and the comparatively minuscule amount of funds funneled into the sector in recent years, and the result is a perfect storm of potential. Concludes TechCrunch, “But now the cat is out of the bag. The rise of a new education and learning world has begun with investment in edtech set to reach $252 billion globally by 2020. Just as digitalization has transformed the financial services industry, it too will soon have its progressive grip wrapped around education.”
The Impact of Edtech
Despite the buzz over edtech’s abundant entrepreneurial opportunities, something else remains at the heart of the equation: the students themselves. In what specific ways can we expect to see edtech play out in the lives of its direct beneficiaries? Here’s a closer look: