For years now there has being a quiet buzz within the education technology sector about its potential to transform teaching and learning, but with Covid-19 forcing schools around the world to close, or shift to remote and blended pedagogies, its impact and benefits for education are now undeniable for pupils, parents, teachers, education leaders, government and investors.
Arguably, Covid-19 has catapulted what was already a positive, but steady trajectory, but it is a very welcome escalation for a sector that has quietly being paying its dues. Certainly, within England, we are witnessing a shift in perceptions, demonstrated by a surge in usage rates, greater advocacy from teachers and increased support from both private and public investment.
Since March, we’ve seen how existing providers alongside a new wave of edtech have become invaluable in addressing the unique challenges posed by Covid-19. This includes online tutoring platforms, such as GoStudent and Tute, that can help close the Covid-19 attainment gap; resources like UniBuddy, which helps universities and prospective students find best-fit matches during campus closures; OpenClassrooms who offer carer pathways and online courses, and WhiteHat, which plays a crucial role in hiring staff and skill development through apprenticeships – connecting people with clear routes to meaningful employment.
It is clear that edtech has solidified its value, but what’s next? Earlier this week, Holon IQ, a specialist education market intelligence platform, published its eighth regional map, shining a spotlight on the top 100 edtech organisations in Europe – those to watch, and those already transforming the way the world learns. It highlighted that while Europe has been an innovation hub for technology, it is rapidly becoming a hotbed for edtech, with a strong ecosystem spanning London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon and Sweden that is internationally recognised by schools, universities and global companies.
It also pointed to the future of edtech, broadly categorising resources into two categories: enablers and disrupters.
The key trends for enablers are taking shape around the core concept of scalability – something that has been in high demand this year and is set to continue as educational institutes prioritise flexibility and growth. Within this, edtech is set to focus on:
- Enhancing employer-university and further education collaboration – helping industry co-design and co-deliver courses with higher and further education institutes to meet the demands of employers and key growth sectors
- Streamlining operating systems for teaching – enabling a more flexible approach to teaching and learning that can scaled as required
- Increasing university recruitment – improving student access to universities but also helping universities break into competitive new markets.
Another area of edtech to watch is the emerging disruptors, who are bringing with them a fresh perspective and exciting innovations to education. According to Emerge Education, these are forecast to include:
- Online vocational schools – some of which we’re already starting to see, as people look to upskill and retrain in order to access new careers
- Challenger universities – a completely new university experience with curricular, teaching and operating models developed with digital capabilities at the forefront
- Tailored and scalable workforce training – helping to retrain and upskill staff as professional environments become more flexible and a greater emphasis is placed on digital skillsets.
It’s evident, and a sign of the times, that edtech has become a mainstay in education. As we continue to navigate the unchartered territory of a Covid-19 world, and the inevitable recovery period, it will be exciting to see the innovation across the sector and how it reshapes the teaching and learning experience in the years to come.