A founder shares the top 5 trends in edtech likely to see traction this year.
GUEST COLUMN | by Max Azarov
Despite losing momentum following unprecedented pandemic-fueled growth during 2020 and 2021, the global edtech sector continues to grow, with numerous technology-led trends driving the next evolution in digital learning.
The potential for continued growth is enormous. The 2022 Evolution of Edtech: Activity in Private and Public Markets report from Brighteye Ventures and Dealroom, states that the $6.5T global education industry is still in the early stages of digitization, with less than 4% of the market currently digitized.
‘…the $6.5T global education industry is still in the early stages of digitization, with less than 4% of the market currently digitized.’
Technology trends that will fuel adoption include direct-to-consumer models, enterprise learning and skilling, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled personalized, self-guided and adaptive learning, and the growing integration of extended reality (XR) technologies for augmented and more immersive learning experiences.
Trend 1: Higher investment in technology to meet demand
Various technologies will shape trends in 2023 and beyond, which will contribute to the continued rise of edtech globally as schools, tertiary institutions, businesses and governments embrace more aggressive technology adoption strategies to facilitate blended learning and remote work.
These digital technologies will allow the sector to accommodate the expected surge in demand for K-12 learning and democratize English language proficiency across the globe through broader access to services at a lower cost.
The 2022 Owl Ventures Education Outcomes Report estimates that an additional 800 million K-12 graduates and 350 million post-secondary-school graduates will enter the market over the next decade, fueling unprecedented demand for up-skilling and re-skilling solutions.
Given this growth potential, the edtech sector continues to attract significant investment. While total global venture capital activity is unlikely to exceed the $20.8B invested in global Edtech startups in 2021 and $14.8B in 2020, total investment is on track to exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
Trend 2: Greater focus on personalized learning experiences
According to Nitin Ramrakhyani, Product Vice President at Novakid, personalization is the next frontier in K-12 learning.
“There is already a great deal of personalization that happens during on-boarding as we determine student preferences, learning style and capabilities, and match learners with teachers based on their specific skill sets and personality. However, much of this personalization happens manually at present.”
As technologies such as AI and machine learning advance and filter into more learning platforms, more of this personalization can happen automatically and at scale.
Perhaps more significantly, intelligent technologies will empower learners to personalize their experience by choosing elements like their preferred teacher or content delivery method, be it music, animation or game play, as examples.
“Technology-enabled personalization will ensure learners can create their preferred experience because, at the end of the day, learning should feel like fun, and the definition of fun is different for everyone,” continues Ramrakhyani.
As these capabilities evolve, AI-based machine learning solutions and recommendation engines will analyze user behavior on the platform and will make automated personalized recommendations to enhance specific skills or deliver the appropriate content to enhance the learning experience and improve outcomes.
Trend 3: Student-centered learning will take center stage
More sophisticated solutions will build on the ability to deliver hyper-personalization at scale and will support another big edtech trend – student-centered learning.
With the shift to remote learning since 2020, the sector has already witnessed a shift to asynchronous learning, where students increasingly prefer to complete their lessons and submit projects at their own pace.
Edtech guided self-practice solutions now give students the ability to work on their own, and then use the remaining time for lessons or direct engagements with the teacher.
“This guided self-learning model is not a complete independent self-learning experience, but technology enables multiple guided learning opportunities, including high-dosage tutoring and differentiated or individualized instructions,” explains Ramrakhyani.
“The teacher still gives an introduction, explains concepts, and provides learners with a learning path. They also intervene during lessons to check progress and provide feedback in real time.”
In this emerging new model, teachers still guide the process by recommending learning paths and supporting learners, but students retain greater autonomy over their learning with the freedom and flexibility to shape their experiences.
“Our current platform development is focused on increasing the time spent by learners independently on our platform to 70% and reducing teacher-aided lesson time to 30% through the use of intelligent technologies such as AI and chatbots,” explains Ramrakhyani.
When implemented effectively in this way, guided self-learning can improve a teacher’s capacity, which enables them to provide more individualized instruction to students on a one-on-one basis when needed.
And with access to rich real-time data, teachers or course coordinators can track student progress to identify any potential problems or recommend additional content or course work to accelerate learning progress in stronger areas at an individual level to help students develop holistically.
Trend 4: The journey to self-guided and adaptive learning will accelerate
By harnessing AI, machine learning and data analytics, edtech solutions will create more personalized and interactive learning experiences that empower students to learn more by themselves in collaborative and flexible ways.
This will allow students of the appropriate age to take more, if not full control, of their learning experience. Fully autonomous adaptive learning solutions will use AI engines and machine learning to tailor educational content to the learner interacting with the platform, without assistance from teachers or tutors.
These solutions will take multiple variables into account, such as learning style and aptitude, and can adapt lessons in real time to provide the content and exercises needed to bridge knowledge gaps and reinforce concepts.
“Creating truly autonomous self-guided and adaptive learning solutions will ultimately democratize education across the globe, making more learning opportunities available to millions,” adds Ramrakhyani.
Coupling this technology with a subscription-based model for learning – a prolific trend to emerge since 2020 – will give more children around the world access to a more affordable quality K-12 education.
Trend 5: Immersive learning through XR
XR – the umbrella term for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), or a combination of related technologies – has already begun to penetrate the K-12 learning environment, but the prohibitive costs will slow the adoption rate of this technology trend.
“Before VR and virtual environments like Metaverse become mainstream tools in the learning environment, more people will need to have and use these devices and technologies in their homes,” elaborates Ramrakhyani.
However, some schools are already using XR tools to create more immersive learning experiences and save money on physical equipment. For example, AR allows students to view 3D depictions of animals, chemical elements, the human body and other relevant physical objects.
And digital tools like Google Expeditions allow students to take virtual field trips to places or locations anywhere in the world without the time and cost associated with physical travel.
Max Azarov is co-founder and CEO of NovaKid, an online English school for children aged 4-12 that provides lessons with native speakers using a syllabus that corresponds to the European Standards CEFR. Connect on LinkedIn.