Just a few years ago most VCs shunned investments into edTech, considering it to be one of the toughest industries for startups to break into, scale and monetize. In the past couple years that perception has changed dramatically. Covid closures highlighted major inefficiencies and gaps in digital transformation of public school systems, while innovative entrepreneurs stepped in to offer much better educational opportunities and outcomes across the world.
Start-ups have expanded the quality and quantity of educational experiences, increasing the pool of educators and knowledge, as well as expanding geographical and financial access to a much wider audience than ever before. EdTech business models have also become much more innovative and sustainable, making edTech startups an ever more attractive investment target.
Technology is expanding the quantity and quality of educators
Today no single person can learn, retain or teach any one discipline, or even a complete course adequately alone. Tutoring and teaching platforms are bringing many more individuals into the education equation. Sites like Udemy, TutorMe, Wyzant and others allow students to learn from a vast group of people with formal teaching experience and training, as well as tutors with on the job and life experience. This expansion is driving the learning experience to be more diverse, multidisciplinary and practical. Now anyone can be a tutor in something, and opportunities for learning stretch from math and coding to cooking, art, anime and speaking a foreign language.
Technology is expanding learning geographically
Students are no longer limited to just the educators and resources in their local school or region, but can learn from anyone in the world. Regardless whether you are a student in Moldova or Malaysia, you can learn from top Ivy League professor’s or other top lectures on sites like Academic Earth, Coursera, Udemy and edX. Similarly, teachers across the globe that want to share their knowledge and experience are no longer limited to just the local audience, but can build a substantial business teaching students around the world. In addition, startups have also stepped in to remove the language barriers through platforms like Chatlas, Interactio, Readlee or even just Google Translate — services that offer real time interpretation, translation and subtitles for lectures and presentations.
Technology is expanding access to education to broader audiences
Online platforms allow everyone to have access to the best and latest content in a vast array of topics in an open and accessible way. Static textbooks with legacy information can now be easily supplemented with interactive video, simulations, and AR/VR to make topics more interesting and understandable. Platforms like MakeMeGenius, How Stuff Works, Curiosity and CosmoLearning to name a few are inspiring people to learn a variety of topics with accessible content and awesome visualization of even the most complex issues. These new edtech offerings have proven to be more effective at developing cognitive and psychomotor skills and improving retention and engagement of complex topics.
Technology is reducing costs for students and teachers alike
Publishing ideas for audiences around the world only takes seconds and the cost has become quite low or even free. For students, new educational platforms no longer require expensive computers to access quality online content — any mobile device will do.
Teachers can quickly publish materials with BookCreator, launch quizzes for their classroom with Kahoot, create a class online community with ClassDojo, gather feedback with Socrative, measure student comprehension with Nearpod, build or borrow digital lesson plans at HyperDocs and much more — with most services free for individual students and teachers to use. Even VR can be first experienced with just a $15 Cardboard set and your existing smartphone. Students can then take immersive field trips to the seven wonders of the world or any of the other 900 locations and experiences on Google Expeditions for free without leaving home or the classroom.
Technology is improving learning outcomes
New edTech platforms allow education to shift from the traditional one-size fits all model to personalized teaching based on real-time data where the curriculum is matched to each student’s capability and pace of learning. AI/ML and synthesis of data allows educators to dynamically evaluate student performance, identify strengths and weaknesses and prescribe tailored lessons and recommendations. Technology can help improve learning outcomes, maximizes teaching effectiveness and learning becomes truly tailored to each students’ individual needs. Educators are seeing that technology is shifting away from being perceived a distraction in learning to being the driver of engagement and fostering connections.
Technology is helping curate and deliver the ever expanding content
Exponential growth in both content and technology has vastly outpaced the glacial transformation of educational systems. Before 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every 100 years, but by 1945 the pace was down to 25 years. Today accumulated knowledge doubles every 12 hours. At the same time schools and education systems have changed very little since the turn of the century when in 1999 we thought the extra digit was going to make our elevators and digital world crash on New Year’s Eve.
Today smart phones + BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) + ubiquitous WI-FI means that many students carry more computational power in their phone charger or USB sticks than NASA had access to in putting a man on the Moon. Today’s smartphones are 100 times faster than IBM Deep Blue supercomputer that beat world chess champion Garri Kasparov in 1997. That’s a lot of power in a 12 year old’s pocket. Platforms like YouTube, TedEd are tagging, organizing and curating all of this information into relevant and easy to find topics — making it accessible for everyone. Design tools like Canva give everyone access massive libraries of templates, content, audio, and animation files to create virtually any document you want. While services like Common Lit and ProQuest allow teachers to filter through a massive library of literature based on the grade level, genre, theme, language and assign relevant reading tasks and questions.
Our investments in edTech startups
At Change Ventures we aim to help those entrepreneurs that are innovating and developing outstanding educational solutions to improve student outcomes in a scalable way. We have invested in two exciting edTech startups that are changing the way that people learn:
99math — online platform for math games. Competitive league, quizzes, Math Day events and social tools for 1–6th graders to encourage math practice in a fun and social way. Over 1 million students and teachers every month participate in games and are solving over 3 million math problems per day.
Memby — One-to-many online high-school tutoring service. Hand-picked instructors that experts in their field, but more importantly, good at teaching — imparting knowledge to the student. Over 4 thousand students across Europe are already learning in this one-of-a-kind online school built on high quality education and mutual trust.