Is education technology unintentionally preparing students for the world of work?

Now is the time for edtech startups and organisations to show what they have to offer and shine

Education institutions – including schools, colleges and universities – have had to shift to online teaching and learning as the pandemic meant closing their doors to students. Although this has sometimes been met with frustration by those who have had their studies disrupted, we must ask ourselves: are they unintentionally being provided with an introduction to the workforce they are expected to enter?

It’s not typical for students across such a wide variety of ages to be taught entire terms and semesters of their education online, but this lack of normality is in keeping with the theme for last year, even into 2021. With students returning to school, it will be interesting to see how many education institutions continue using technology as part of the teaching experience. We must also ask whether we will continue to see a further demand for edtech brought to the fore, so students do not feel as though the last year has been a waste of their time.

Keeping up with the digital natives

As reported by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and as we all know, remote learning meant teachers had to pivot their teaching style as traditional in-person methods did not translate to a virtual learning setting. Educators had to make their lessons more engaging and interactive in order to keep their students’ attention. Teachers must not think the return to the classroom means this can now stop, as whether they know it or not, students have come to expect an increased level of ingenuity from their teachers. This is therefore something that technology can continue to support, if given the opportunity.

We are already seeing a boom in edtech funding, with it being reported that US edtech startups raised over $2.2 billion in venture and private equity capital in 2020, a nearly 30% increase from the $1.7 billion invested in 2019. We can expect this to continue as teachers look to shift certain elements of learning online and come up with new ways to keep students engaged, both in and out of the classroom. Edtech organisations are also diversifying. With the world shifting in and out of lockdown over the last year, adults have looked towards technology to learn new hobbies and skills. Organisations have capitalised on this and are honing in on adults looking to develop their skill set, just as much as they’re focusing on their primary student target audience.

The edtech boom

Various education and technology organisations such as Duolingo and FutureLearn have been making moves in this space for quite some time, and Kahoot! even reported its revenues increased by 220% in the first quarter of 2020 alone. We can see this through the PR and advertising campaigns companies have pushed into the consumer market as they continue to ride the edtech wave. For example, Duolingo recently revealed the top phrase from learners in 2020 (if you’re wondering it’s “I am eating bread and crying on the floor” – we’ve all been there).

As a team with many years of experience in the edtech space – whether that’s coding toys or with schools and universities themselves – we’ve been observing the positive movements of the edtech industry for quite some time. We expect the sector’s popularity to continue, and with the travel sector no longer spending money on advertising, there’s now a big gap that needs to be filled.

Now is the time for edtech startups and organisations to show what they have on offer and shine – while the world is watching.

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