Edtech Market Set to Grow, Transform Learning

Children using digital devices in classroom.

Few industries have been changed by the internet and related technologies quite like the education industry. Online learning and other forms of edtech have opened up new possibilities for how, when, and where people interact with educators, improving student engagement and providing new flexibility and ways of mastering a new subject. Below, we take a deep dive into the edtech industry. 

Market Projected to See 16.5% Annual Compound Growth

According to Grand View Research, the global edtech market was worth $106.5 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.5% from 2022 to 2030. The market includes both hardware and software to provide virtual education to students and improve in-person learning. These technologies can help overcome hurdles inherent in traditional learning models that may keep some students from fulfilling their full potential. 

One common example of edtech is eBooks, which are often cheaper than physical textbooks, which students can read anywhere they have an internet connection, and which are easily translated into new languages. Audio content is another important innovation, as it helps students with visual impairments and other physical disabilities.

More advanced technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, are also playing a key role in edtech. “Edtech solutions are expected to evolve in line with the advances in the latest technologies, such as IoT, AI, and AR/VR, and contribute significantly to the market’s growth,” Grand View Research Says. “The integration of AR and VR in edtech solutions helps offer an interactive experience to the learners to explore and seamlessly connect with abstract concepts, subsequently driving student engagement.”

Specific recent examples of edtech innovations include:

  • In January 2022, Texthelp, a prominent assistive technology provider for the edtech market, launched OrbitNote. This pdf-enabled app helps visually impaired students access a document by leaving voice notes and helps users interact with digital copies of learning materials in new ways.
  • Also in January 2022, zSpace, a US-based edtech firm that offers hybrid or remote learning, launched a new AR/VR learning device that would help engage students with multidimensional content in a virtual world, eliminating the need for glasses.
  • In July 2021, Huawei Technologies, an information technology company, launched a smart learning screen for children with a wide range of educational resources and applications such as word lookup, remote homework tutoring, teaching classes, textbooks, parent management education center, and smart learning solutions. 

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the edtech industry in significant ways. “A lot of educators, especially in the post-Covid world, are grappling with the fact that education has gone digital,” says Sean Michael Morris, VP of Academics at Course Hero. “It went digital before Covid, but people could still avoid it prior to the pandemic. Even though we are going back to campus, the digital learning experience is here to stay. Hybrid is certainly the future for educators and the education system.” 

Perhaps the most important driver of the edtech market is the advent of smart classrooms, which use various technologies like animations, multimedia, audio, video, and graphics to better engage students and promote learning. These technologies have been shown in many instances to improve academic performance. Other market drivers include increasing awareness among parents of the usefulness of edtech for their children, as well as a trend toward lifelong learning.

Despite the promise of edtech, privacy is a major concern. Many of the technologies involved require the use of students’ and educators’ personal data. edtech companies must protect this data and abide by all privacy laws in the jurisdictions in which they operate.

Edtech Sectors and End Users

According to Grand View Research, the K-12 edtech segment was the largest in 2021 and accounted for more than 40% of global revenue. This is in part because game-based learning is now widely used for this age group, especially for subjects like math. Virtual field trips and other immersive experiences and content are also part of the K-12 learning process at many schools. 

In terms of end-users, businesses led the market in 2021, with more than 65% of global revenue. This is in large part because an increasing number of edtech firms are partnering with educational institutions and content developers to create learning materials.

Key Companies

Prominent companies in the edtech market include:

Edtech Companies to Watch

Lingoda

Lingoda provides online language lessons. It offers live, hour-long Zoom classes with experienced teachers in classes that have no more than five students. You also can choose one-on-one instruction. The company offers 550,000 classes every year, which means more than 60 classes start every hour around the clock. All instructors have native-level speaking skills and are located around the world, which helps students learn cultural differences within a given language. Classes have built-in time to practice speaking, and students receive personalized feedback. Available languages currently include German, English, Business English, French, and Spanish.

Curiosity Stream

Curiosity Stream, started by Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, allows customers to stream thousands of educational films, series, and shows on-demand and on any device, wherever they have an internet connection. The television channel features educational programming in the areas of science, nature, history, technology, travel, crime, adventure, and more, with titles like “Engineering the Future” and “The History of Rome.” Plus, the company’s One Day University offers live and on-demand lectures from professors. 

BetterUp

BetterUp provides coaching, AI technology, and behavioral science experts to help people and organizations make personal changes and improve their individual resilience, adaptability, and effectiveness. It creates personalized experiences with interactive content, analytics, and real-time data to help members track their progress. Solutions for individuals stress one-on-one coaching to achieve personal goals, while business solutions help companies build leaders, accelerate team performance and engagement, improve organizational health, foster diversity and inclusion, and even boost sales. Coaches are located worldwide, and the online sessions can be held at the customer’s convenience.

Outschool

Outschool provides more than 150,000 online classes for children ages 3-18 on a huge variety of topics. The company offers everything from Chess for Beginners to Encanto Ballet Dance Class to Multiplication Summer Boot Camp. Classes are small and conducted live to promote student engagement and student-teacher relationships, and the educators are experienced and vetted for safety. Although parents are the company’s primary customer base, employers can also offer custom classes to groups of employees as a fringe benefit or team-building event. Children can learn on any device with video classes that fit their interests and schedule, and financial assistance is available.

Labster

Labster bills itself as “the world’s leading platform for virtual labs and science simulations.” The company aims to improve learning outcomes by engaging students with game-based elements that inspire them to explore science. Students then apply their knowledge to solve a real-world problem within the context of a story. Inside the 3D environment of an immersive simulation, students master curriculum-aligned theory, interact with advanced equipment, learn science techniques, and perform experiments. Labster integrates with the most popular learning management system platforms, automatically grades quiz questions, and provides a dashboard of student performance data. Simulations are offered in multiple languages.

Recent Developments in Edtech

Lingoda

With thousands of people fleeing the war in Ukraine and arriving in Germany or German-speaking countries, Lingoda is offering free German classes to help those in need, the company said in a press release. Language learning is vital to help refugees integrate faster into a new society and establish themselves in a new country, culture, and life. Lingoda has been offering free volunteer-led German classes for refugees since the end of March 2022. To cover the high demand for the courses, the online language school has now partnered with Kiron Higher Education, the Berlin-based NGO providing online higher education for refugees worldwide, to be able to offer even more classes via the peer-to-peer initiative. 

“Having been able to introduce this initiative and being the one to give the first free German class – it was pretty overwhelming,” Alistair Starling, Senior Business Development Leader at Lingoda, said in the announcement. “Everyone was very eager to learn. We [made every effort] to understand each other and to make some progress with our German skills to make life at least a tiny bit easier for those arriving in a new place.”

Curiosity Stream

Curiosity Stream recently provided a preview of its 2022 slate of original series and feature-length documentary films. “Several popular series are back for new seasons plus exciting new, brand-defining titles showcase compelling stories from biomimicry, asteroids, true crime, and exotic wildlife rescue to great escapes in history, accidental inventions, tycoons that shaped the world, and much more,” the company said in a press release. Representative titles include Evolve, a series that explores evolution; Titans: The Rise of Wall Street; Red Elvis: The Cold War Cowboy; and another series called Mind of a Con Artist.

BetterUp

BetterUp and Walmart announced a new curated subscription and community service to support the caregiver population. BetterUp for Caregivers is the only coaching subscription available exclusively through The Wellness Hub on Walmart.com. “The product offering is the first of its kind to-date, designed by Ph.Ds and behavioral scientists to deliver measurable improvement in resilience and life satisfaction,” BetterUp said in a press release. Members will experience live group programming, community support, and a wide array of on-demand solutions, including drop-in workshops, coaching, tailored self-guided programs, and personalized assessments.

Outschool

Outschool announced a $75 million Series C raise at a $1.3 billion valuation for its K-12 education marketplace. This Series C funding comes on the heels of a $45 million Series B raise last summer to meet the continued increase in demand for online classes and camps. This latest round of funding will be used to help the company to grow and expand globally where the demand by learners outpaces the availability of classes. Outschool will also continue to invest in its newly created B2B offering that allows businesses to provide online classes as a company benefit. In addition, the company is continuing to grow its partnerships with schools and districts for supplemental learning and afterschool programs.

Labster

Labster announced it is helping microbiology students at Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University prepare for in-person laboratory experiments. A life sciences professor there first adopted Labster for her Fall 2020 microbiology course, which she delivered entirely online. Covid-19 inspired her to research the viability of remote simulation activities like Labster to advance experiential learning. Based on positive feedback from students, she then incorporated the simulations into her in-person Fall 2021 curriculum as pre-laboratory tools.

“Labster overcame my original skepticism that online lab simulations could prove an acceptable substitute for the in-person experience. I found my students benefited from Labster’s adaptive learning opportunities,” Dr. Tripepi said in a press release. “The flexibility of online simulation can help level the playing field for non-traditional students. It allows students to practice their skills in a risk-free setting, providing instant feedback and encouraging them to develop their natural curiosity in conducting realistic experiments.”

What Is Edtech and Why Is It important?

Generally speaking, edtech refers to the use of technology – particularly internet-connected devices – in the classroom. The overall goals of edtech are to improve student engagement, customize lessons to each individual, and improve learning outcomes. 

We all remember the days of chalkboards, paper books, and overhead projectors. While not all of these have gone by the wayside, they are increasingly being replaced by electronic whiteboards, laptops, televisions, and other electronics. At their best, these tools have improved the learning experience in a number of ways. These include:

Keeping Students Engaged

One of the biggest benefits of edtech is that it can make the material more interesting and keep students engaged longer than traditional methods of teaching. For example, students can have video chats with other students around the world, play learning games, and conduct interesting research online.

Improving Access to Learning

Edtech allows students to learn wherever they have an internet connection. Moreover, because many lessons are recorded, students can work when it is convenient and at their own pace. For example, high school teacher Elise Phillips notes that science-focused edtech applications can allow students to conduct experiments from home.

Helping Students Collaborate

Students can use edtech tools like tablets and laptops to work together on projects, even if they are not in the same room. They communicate, share notes, and provide each other assistance in new ways.

In addition to helping students, edtech can make instructors’ jobs easier by:

Improving Classroom Management

edtech can help manage classrooms by automating grading using AI that analyzes and evaluates students’ work based on criteria set by instructors. This works especially well with projects that have objective answers and less so with assignments like essays that require more subjective evaluations. Other classroom management tools can, for example, help teachers communicate with students and parents by sending reminders about projects or behavioral standards.

Helping to Measure Students’ Progress

Assessing how much students are learning has always been more of an art than a science. edtech tools can help by collecting and analyzing student performance, strengths, and weaknesses. 

Helping to Personalize Lessons

Students tend to be more engaged when instructional materials are personalized to their particular interests, skills, and talents. While this isn’t always possible, edtech makes it easier by letting students learn at their own pace, letting instructors know when students are having trouble with particular work, and designing unique learning plans for each student based on performance data.

“Coming out of the pandemic, students are at extremely varied levels of learning,” says Courtney Gacona of readtolead.org. “The personalization intelligence of many edtech products is critical to closing these gaps. Instead of a teacher having to customize and differentiate a lesson multiple different ways for each of their students, the technology is learning the student’s gaps in real time and serving up personalized and leveled content based on where each individual student needs the most support. This way high achievers are challenged, and struggling learners are fully-supported and get the practice they need.”

Edtech Concerns

Despite the promise of edtech, many have pointed out that it sometimes does not live up to the vaunted expectations placed on it. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) determined that in countries where edtech is used in classrooms, its impact on student performance is “mixed, at best.” Its study found “no appreciable improvements in student achievement in reading, mathematics, or science in most countries that had invested heavily in [edtech],” the OECD said.

There are several possible reasons why edtech has yet to reach its full potential. For example:

  • Although many edtech implementations rely on tablets and other devices that require reading, not all students learn best that way.
  • Not all national, state, and local governments can afford to use edtech, which usually requires substantial initial funding.
  • Technological issues like poor internet connections, lost passwords, and buggy software can make using edtech tools difficult or impossible, especially if teachers and students are not particularly tech-savvy.

In addition, distance learning over the internet can be alienating, especially for students who desire more personal interactions. Liz Hurley at Learnopoly says that “cohort-based learning” can help combat this problem by creating small online communities of students who complete courses according to a set time frame while collaborating directly with each other and with tutors. “Whereas self-paced courses have completion rates as low as 3%, cohort-based courses often see completion rates of over 90%,” she says. “There is a strong positive correlation between students’ sense of community and their learning success in online courses.” 

Finally, keeping all the data generated by edtech secure is easier said than done. Governments are a major driver of ever-increasing cybersecurity standards. “Cybersecurity regulation, compliance, and auditing is what’s beginning to roll downhill to edtech vendors,” says attorney Ryan Johnson. “As the Feds put pressure on the states, the states put pressure on the state agencies, and in turn, educational institutions are applying that same pressure on vendors.”

Adriaan Brits

An analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment, and business. He is a specialist trainer in advanced analytics and media.

Read more from Adriaan Brits