Edtech – It’s Promise and Future
The EdTech industry is transforming traditional learning methods by blending digital capabilities and the widespread penetration of digital devices within the general population. EdTech platforms have mushroomed to encompass adaptive learning, animated content, gamification, etc. (Khaleej Times). Globally, the EdTech industry recorded a total investment of USD 18.7bn in 2019, following a record of USD 16.3bn in 2018 (Ibid ).
It is notable that the combined investments in 2018 and 2019 are greater than the total combined investment recorded from 1998 through 2017, a period of quarter century. Within the Mena region too, deals rose from four in 2016 to over 30 in 2019 (Ibid ). There is much investment interest too in Mena. Mena EdTech startups raised over USD 25.2mn in PE and VC funding, for 2019.
In the current and post-pandemic world, EdTech will play a greater role; however, it needs huge investments in telecom and infrastructure, faster data connectivity and capacity building. Moreover, Covid-19 has enabled the education sector to realize the strong potential of digital learning (Inc42). Also, due to the challenges that schools are facing due to the lockdown in many parts of the world, EdTech companies have enabled tools and platforms like live doubt-clearing sessions, e-books, etc.
EdTech can also be used to strategize and tailor the syllabi, addressing the distinct learning interests or specialized learning requirements (Entrepreneur Media ). The potential of EdTech in the GCC is evidenced by Kuwait-based Baims. Founded in 2017, Baims started operations with customized tutoring modules based on university curricula (Wamda ). It then expanded its capacities to include multiple colleges and universities in both Kuwait and Riyadh. The startup, reportedly, managed to break even within 24 hours.
- Kuwait has the highest reserves among GCC countries, relative to its GDP at 542%.
- Saudi Arabia is expected to enjoy the highest credit growth at 5.3% in 2020.
- UAE could continue to enjoy surplus trade position in 2020.
A key enabler for EdTech is the fact that the devices are getting smarter and more efficient (Appinventiv ). A web of interconnectivity using big data Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help in driving autonomous customer experiences (CX), adding a highly personalized dimension to EdTech. There are several other emerging benefits of EdTech too. Some of them are (Ibid ) –
- Digital accessing of education could help ensure a border-less or international experience, helping in the emergence of B2C education distribution channels.
- With learning material getting remotely accessible, EdTech could catalyze ‘education for all’.
- Education could be customized to each student, enabling self-paced classes to become commonplace.
- For those differently abled, innovating customized provisions becomes possible and easier, thus empowering access to quality education.
Incidentally, EdTech is being seen as a tool for upskilling for a future-ready workforce too (CNBC ). It is because education doesn’t just end after college in an era of strident tech disruptions, mandating continuous learning as important to protect jobs in the process. The ongoing pandemic health crisis has made sure that nothing will likely be the same as before the great lockdown (India Today ). In education too, online platforms that were once seen as useful supplements to conventional education infrastructure will become deeply mainstream. Undoubtedly, this will change the fashion in which academic content is created, personally consumed and deployed across platforms.