To mark GovStart applications for 2019, we’ve started a series on key GovTech sectors and what we’ve found interesting when digging deeper into them. First up: EdTech.
EdTech is one of GovTech’s high-growth areas, with a market set to be worth $252 billion by 2020.
Yet whilst education and its future is a much discussed topic, the role technology can play in enhancing learning still feels open to be defined. As education budgets across Europe become more and more stretched and students’ expectations of teaching resources rise, new technology can provide a welcome bridge for these ever-growing gaps.
The EdTech Market
Europe is already producing many of the world’s leading EdTech startups and is well-positioned to become world leader in the sector. The UK currently ranks top for edtech venture capital funding in Europe and also hosts London EdTech Week each year in June – one of the continent’s leading EdTech events.
The EdTech market is broad and encompasses all technologies that seek to improve education. This can be split into a few key areas: learning/educational platforms, school administration, learning management systems, communication platforms, study tools and learning analytics.
Even this segmentation, however, does little to indicate the full breadth and volume of offerings available. Intersections with other technology sectors, such as HealthTech and FinTech, are beginning to produce some of the most vibrant EdTech hybrids – such as BlackBullion, an app trying to create a financially literate generation of students by providing financial education to university-level students; and Lexplore, which helps determine reading attainment of children and highlight specific reading difficulties, such as dyslexia.
Within learning platforms, the market ranges from the language learning apps like Duolingo and Lingumi, to platforms like MATH42 and Code Kingdoms which teach children maths and coding skills respectively. Startups like Airsupply are changing how schools find teachers, by matching teachers and teaching assistants to vacant positions. Academic assessment processes are also in a period of transformation, whether that’s through DigiExam changing how students take their exams and how teachers write their questions, or through Peergrade allowing students to learn through assessing their peers’ works.
Where are the opportunities for EdTech within the public sector?
Last year, the Department for Education published its aims to increase the use of new technology – to lead a classroom revolution. There is a huge amount of new technology available in this area, but as of yet, few have been adopted by schools in a widespread way – an opportunity for startups, but only those who are able to scale quickly across a very fragmented market.
Adjacent to in-classroom tech is efficiency and cost-saving technology for schools – automation of back office processes such as assessment and HR, and workforce management and improvement, such as recruitment and training. Startups such as Arbor are blazing ahead in this arena, but automation in education systems still leaves much to be desired.
Outside of schools, inclusive access to education and lifelong learning remain key agendas – and large markets. High quality online resources which are readily available for students are increasingly used and remain attractive to governments as a means to help break down barriers of class or regional inequality. Schools themselves may even start looking to online platforms to provide resources to students. With parents now being asked to buy textbooks for their children, startups like Perlego and Bibliotech may provide a tech solution to an increasing educational challenge.
Language learning is one of the most developed areas of EdTech – apps like Duolingo and busuu are already household names. However, even within this field new companies are emerging, such as Lingumi, supporting children aged 2-6 to learn English; Little Bridge, providing a global online platform for children to interact and learn English, and Tandem, linking up native language speakers to language students. Platforms teaching coding and STEM subjects are following a similar trajectory.
As a general rule, the technology needed to improve the lives of teachers and students is already out there – whether it’s finding teaching tools to increase accessibility or making assessment and administrative processes more efficient, the EdTech market has a solution. Now is the time for schools to start adopting.