The EdTech Landscape And Its Trends

One of the emerging trends seen in this sector is the obvious acceleration of online learning which is backed up by the recent investment activity

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If there's one thing, we can be sure of through the course of evolutionary history in humans, is that as the gentle hand of evolution has been pushing us forward in the scheme of survival, the trends we as a specie employ to survive the present times continue to evolve with us. The urge for survival is the birthplace of invention and with it comes trends that make us, as a specie, not just survive but also thrive.

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The birthing of a few concept gives rise to trends that we then tend to employ to greater our benefit. Take something as simple as the invention of the wheel for example, birthing the concept of transportation to whole age of industrialization, we can safely say that the invention of the wheel set trends in motion that changed our evolutionary history.

While we fast forward to a more modern age, after centuries of inventions and trends having taken place, we reach the age of digitisation: looking with keen and curious eyes, where this turn in evolution will now take us.

With the age of digitisation, we are now witnessing the rise of education technology (edtech) and the trends taking shape that shall determine and reinvent the methods of learning. The edtech sector is one which has evolved over the past few years and took quite a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic for obvious reasons. That is not to say, that edtech was not flourishing pre-COVID, it was being used even then for supplement, test preparation and distance learning courses. The Indian edtech journey started in 2004 with the emergence of satellite-based education and smart classrooms. Things really took a turn in 2015 when the market saw an emergence of 1,000-plus startups raising a funding of over $122 million. A NASSCOM report in 2018, titled EdTech – The Advent of Digital Education, showed conclusive data that online courses and technology attracted the maximum funding. Moreover, there was an increase in funding five times over in the period between 2013 and 2016.

Past trends in the education sector have shown that even though 90 per cent of the child's brain capacity develops by kindergarten, only 10-15 per cent of the funding is allocated towards early learning, globally. One of the most paradigm shifts made by the edtech industry is to shift the allocation of funding towards an earlier age. In fact, NASSCOM released a detailed report, titled How EdTech can Impact Primary Education in India, highlighting the trends edtech is bringing with it in the Indian education climate. One of the key components identified in the report was easy access to learning, where students have access to updated online courses from anywhere. Since the presence is no longer physical, rather on a screen, there is more imagination and creativity employed by companies while crafting their courses to make the student is engaged and learning. This has led to a more insightful method of "interactive learning' which makes the course, subject, and studying more impactful. Further, no longer is a student forced into a metaphorical box of learning within the course provided, but rather is now given a plethora of options from which one can pick and choose the right courses available. Furthermore, the announcement of National Education Policy 2020 is expected to boost the quality and scope of education in India with the enablement of provisions that are expected to boost the edtech sector.

What's more is that India and China are the top countries investing heavily in the education sector. The last couple of years have seen a $500 million-plus raised in capital by companies from India and China. Zooming out, onto a more global platform, there was an $18.7 billion of global private investment in learning technology suppliers in 2019.

To conclude, one of the emerging trends seen in this sector is the obvious acceleration of online learning which is backed up by the recent investment activity. Even in the K-12 space, "online learning' as a term seems to be fading into the background as new trendy buzzwords like "personalised learning', "competency-based education' or "social-emotional learning' emerge.

Secondly, emerging technologies are now trying to find a platform where they can breakthrough and begin to make their mark in education. The exploration is ongoing to see the way in which how today's innovators can enhance the learner's experience. There have been investments seen from companies which demonstrate interest and potential for virtual reality (VR) in education. This further shows the potential of this sector and the limitlessness of the opportunities and trends it can innovate, of which we are just beginning to explore.