Venture Capital Investment in Education Technology
Global investment in education technology has grown rapidly over the past decade, benefitting from over $32 billion in venture capital funding. Education companies offering innovative digital content and services have proven to be attractive assets garnering ongoing competition by investors. In the last decade, these businesses traded on the promise that the traditional methods of learning would be at most, upended by new technologies, and at least, heavily complemented by them.
Can Higher Education Remain Status Quo Once COVID-19 is Contained?
The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating change across nearly every sector of the economy from healthcare to retail. The same is true for education as colleges and universities have been forced to transition to online learning and rely on technology as the sole means for instruction. One question that students and spectators alike are asking is whether these institutions view this involuntary transition as a temporary issue or a catalyst for a new method of learning that could better benefit students in the long run.
COVID-19 Presents Challenges to Equitable Learning
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the critical role of education technology in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. With little-to-no time to prepare, schools across the country shuttered their doors and have attempted to shift classroom teaching to remote learning, without any precedent. Digital learning programs that have long been powerful tools for supplemental instruction are proving to be increasingly important in maintaining instruction during these extended school closures. That said, districts are confronted with different challenges in implanting distance learning which begs the question: Will the responses to COVID-19 end up privileging wealthier school districts thereby widening the gap for students in districts with limited access to technology and resources?
Recessionary Impact on Education: 2008 Versus 2020
In the past two months, the U.S. saw a sharp 35% decline in the equity markets driven by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as global oil market turmoil. By comparison, the 2008 Great Recession saw a nearly 50% drop in the markets due to the collapse of the housing market. Despite having very different catalysts, both recessions resulted in sweeping impacts to most sectors of the broader economy. Let’s look at how 2008 impacted the education sector and whether we should anticipate similar effects in 2020.
Will Online Learning Become the New Norm?
Over the past few weeks, schools and universities across the nation have shut their doors and have transitioned to online/virtual classrooms. Students and educators – many with no prior online learning experience – are suddenly forced to implement and adapt technology into their regular teaching and learning routines. Experts are questioning if the end to the COVID-19 pandemic will also signal a return to the traditional classroom, or has the meaning of “classroom” been permanently altered? The traditional definition of “classroom” – a room where learning takes place – is no longer simply associated with desks, chairs, a white board, a teacher, and pupils. Technology platforms such as Zoom have allowed a bedroom, a couch, a backyard, or a dining room table to become students’ new place of learning. Although teachers and students should certainly be applauded for the rapid transition to remote learning, the crucial question is whether the online learning model is a sustainable and viable replacement for the traditional schooling system?
K-12 Education Technology in the Midst of COVID-19
In this time of economic turmoil triggered by COVID-19, the demand for education technology (“edtech”) solutions is at its peak. With more than 30 million K-12 students ordered to stay home, online learning has become the new normal. In the past, online learning was a luxury but now plays an essential role in enabling educators to teach, allowing students to continue to learn and grow during this unprecedented crisis.
The Winning Solutions to Shrinking the Skills’ Gap
In today’s tech-enabled world, it has become more difficult than ever for employees to meet the skillset requirements of employers. Unlike the past, companies have narrowed their recruiting scope away from candidates who simply have degrees to ones who possess practical competencies. These are skills that can be observed, measured and can be applied to perform a specific occupation.(1) The demand for these skills is warranted in a technological world; however, a shortage in competent workers means that these demands aren’t being met. This rising epidemic is what we call the skills’ gap. Today, 4 in 10 college graduates are being overlooked by corporations due to a lack of required skills. These same graduates are earning 30% less annually than their fully employed peers. And, there are more than 7 million unfilled employment positions due to the supply/demand misalignment.(2) This is a problem that heavily affects both the employer and employee, but also one that has broader implications on the state of the economy. But there are solutions:
The Time is Now . . . Selling Opportunities for Edtech Companies
The demand for education technology (“edtech”) has increased drastically in the last decade amongst schools and corporations. In 2019, investments in edtech companies in the U.S. reached $1.66 billion – a 16 percent increase from 2018. Digitization has made the progression and steady implementation of edtech crucial in helping students and employees thrive in the classroom and the everchanging workplace. Investors are realizing this, driving them to invest more time and money in these companies in order to help advance initiatives and increase scale. Continued investment in the sector is an encouraging sign for entrepreneurial companies, ensuring the capital required to develop new innovative technologies and strategies. More importantly, favorable 2020 expected buyer demand, promising industry trends, and aligned strategic initiatives point to a time in which selling opportunities for edtech companies are ideal. That time… is now.
The Use of Technology in Higher Education
As the world digitally evolves, education technology (“edtech”) continues to proliferate, increasing the impact it has on learning. The growing exposure of students to technologies in various aspects of their lives has caused a noticeable shift in the way students learn and retain information. As a result, institutions have begun to rely on technologies such as big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and virtual reality to carry out their initiatives to differentiate learning experiences and implement unique, adaptive curriculums. In addition, the technologies are being used to recruit students, predict dropout rates, track student successes as well as help to improve operational efficiency, which ultimately drives growth, increases revenue and reduces costs.
Is Vocation the New Motivation?
Students around the world are investing greater amounts of time in their studies and application processes in order to get into colleges that will ultimately grant them a bachelor’s degree, which is seen by the world as the “golden ticket” to financial freedom and job security. While a bachelor’s degree does grant access to a wider pool of job opportunities by way of showcasing the student’s intellectual credentials and determination to complete a four-year degree program, students are now realizing that their bachelor’s degree does not guarantee a job offer. In fact, a degree is not a golden ticket, but more comparable to a raffle ticket in that students are paying loads of money for an education where there is no guarantee of security or qualification in a changing job market. As more students realize the qualifications companies require, especially specific skillsets, students are becoming less incentivized to obtain the traditional 4-year college degree, causing a shift to nondegree training or certification programs. This raises the daunting question: Is vocation the new motivation?