Exploring The Future of EdTech in 2022

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EdTech and Education: From 2021 to 2022.

In 2021, education globally has been part closed, part open and in most places reeling and trying to reconcile 2020.

Learning Acceleration

I was pleased to see that the general sentiment of lost learning and remediation in K-12 evolved to a mindset of learning acceleration by adapting the next year(s) learning progression. I like this article by Carnegie Learning.

SEL, Wellbeing and Mental Health

There has been a universal move towards implementation of social emotional learning, wellbeing and mental health programs. This was a necessity prior to the pandemic. Urgency increased funding for program adoption. I recommend following Professor Lea Waters and work she has done with Discovery College in Hong Kong. I like Skodel for their evidence based approach and programs by Move This World.

Zero Barrier Educational Products

2021 has been the year of “zero barrier products”. Educators grew confidence with the basics of teaching virtually and offline. Many sought enhancements through technology driven realisations of pre-existing practice or content. These solutions must require zero new knowledge or skill development for educators and include products such as Quizlet (Flash cards), Kahoot (Gamified class quizzes) and Khan Academy (Core curriculum content). All have enjoyed huge success and growth.

The Absence of Innovation

2021 has not been innovative in K-12 education. Teaching in schools has focused on traditional examined subjects. Schools have had restricted time, educators have been burnt out and reluctant to teach outside comfort zones. Future skills have been approached through informal learning. Despite edtech being on the agenda, I believe future preparedness of students will be shown to have declined during 2021. 

Tuition Platforms

Tuition platforms such as Outschool have grown, but can it continue and quality retain as pandemic conditions shift? The public listing of Udemy and Coursera were landmark events. Both arguably the most influential current market positions in decentralised and adult upskilling. This investment analysis cites some considerations that both companies face going into 2022. It would not be 2021 without mentioning Byju’s. It will be interesting to see how their rapidly re-branded “Future School” performs with an urgent need of reputational rebirth and quality assurance.

Investment and Systemic Opportunity

In the first half of 2021 VC investment in education grew globally from US$4.5billion to US$10billion. This is less than 20% of fintech and only 3% of US$288billion invested across all industries during the same period.

Studying Holon IQ’s Global Edtech 1000, the majority of companies cited as most promising are focused on a “Direct to Consumer” model. It follows that venture money in Education is following consumer models not institutional or B2B.

The biggest challenges in education are institutional and deeply systemic such as how core learning is defined, how student learning is assessed and credentialed and the evolving face and place of higher education. I would go so far as to say that Education needs its paradigm to be shattered not shifted. In 2021 I have seen growth in social impact funding such as MIT Solve and the Octava Social Innovation Challenge, the work of the Yidan Prize Foundation, the Education Innovation Ventures arm of ECMC Foundation and the work of the Lumina Foundation. There appears to be acceleration of the work of patient capital towards the more significant issues in education.

Byju’s has gained huge success and has created a lab to focus on innovation. This marks a cycle of venture capital backed edtech reinvesting growth back into potentially systemic objectives. Venture Capital might impact education meaningfully this way and develop credible double bottom line mandates for their funds with terms built into growth rounds.

Looking forward into 2022

K12 Teacher Training

This is my top trend for 2022. Greater capacity created by a revolution in teacher training is needed. I anticipate training to focus on future skill sets to be practiced in directly related lessons, or integrated to enhance and make traditional subjects more relevant. Delivery must focus on practical skills accompanied by immediately usable resources for offline or virtual classrooms.

Credentialing and Assessment

These will continue to be themes for years and are a critical component of improving equity. Credential As You Go and The Open Skills Network are closing the gap between business and Industry. A matter to consider is the mismatch between the way skills, competencies and capabilities are described and understood between education and the world of work. A bridge in understanding will make big steps in connecting learning to opportunity.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency are entering the consciousness in this arena. I expect to hear more about “learn and earn” in 2022.

Artificial intelligence

AI is an aspirational trend in education. Many algorithms remain untested and need longitudinal results to be proven effective. Bias is a concern and privacy will restrict unconstrained application. In my opinion it remains early days for AI in education, and something that will build nearer to 2024-2025.

Metaverse 

Extremely early for Metaverse based learning environments. The simple computer power and connectivity required to run current environments puts any real development in this area beyond the coming year.

about Chris
Christopher is the CEO of BSD Education. He has spent his career as a ‘venture builder’ operating and investing in technology, education and consulting.
Christopher was shortlisted in the Enterprising Young Brits Awards 2007. In 2011 Christopher was nominated as a Global Shaper and Founding Curator of this community’s Hong Kong Hub by the World Economic Forum and was elected to the Global Advisory Council of this community by the World Economic Forum in 2016, Chairing this council from 2017-2019. Between 2011 and 2014 the World Economic Forum sponsored Christopher’s participation in 3 Global Level WEF Events including as a speaker at their Davos Annual Meeting. In 2014 Christopher received a You’re a Star Award for Contribution to Young People from Kely Support Group in Hong Kong. In 2017 Christopher was recognised with a Certificate of Appreciation for contribution to Hong Kong Initiatives from Variety Children’s Charity and in 2018 Christopher was nominated as one of the top 10 outstanding young leaders in Hong Kong.

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