Despite the obvious challenges, one positive to come out of the pandemic is the acceleration of digital transformation. Born out of necessity, our professional and personal lives were forced into digital environments to varying degrees of success. Baring the brunt of this change was the education sector: with millions of students learning from home, the industry needed to rethink how we can learn effectively away from the classroom and the lecture theatre. It was clear that transposing in-person learning directly online hasn’t worked – a study by McKinsey across eight countries asked teachers to rate the effectiveness of remote learning, and they responded with an average score of five out of 10. However, adversity breeds innovation, and as we move into 2022, education technologies (Edtech) are going to become increasingly embedded into all our lives, and not just for those in traditional education settings.
How Edtech can bring the digital consumer experience to schools and MATs
Winston Poyton, senior product director for education at IRIS Software Group, discusses how digital consumer experiences can be delivered by Edtech to schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs). Read here
Edtech will meet the challenge of the skills shortage
One of the more significant Edtech trends in the next year will be the expansion of learning beyond the rigidity of traditional education. The fourth industrial revolution is well underway and the workplace is changing faster than ever before. Automation has made upskilling and reskilling an absolute necessity: jobs for life are over, and lifelong learning will be the key to successful and fulfilling careers. This isn’t a problem for the future, but one bearing down on us here and now: by 2024, there will be a shortfall of over 4 million high skilled workers. Adults will soon become the largest group in education as digital skills take primacy, and these will need to be refreshed regularly: education can no longer be a one-stop shop, and those that want to succeed professionally in the years to come must consistently refresh their skills.
Learning will come out of the classroom and into our daily lives
In 2022, Edtech is going to increasingly become a consumer industry – learning in the next 10 years will be going through the same transition as physical fitness did in the last 10, in terms of the role it plays in our lives. At one point, there was a distinction whereby only athletes did fitness in order to compete effectively – these days we all do it to stay healthy. The same will be the case for learning: high performers did it to shine, but now we all need it to be part of our lives to maintain our professional development. As a result, in the next year the share of the overall education wallet coming directly from consumers, will grow.
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Learning is going to be mission critical for businesses
This will also extend beyond the individual level: in 2022 companies will be increasingly focused on learning-on-the-job to keep workers engaged and effective. Not only will this improve the abilities of the overall workforce, but it will help to assuage the growing issue of hiring. Particularly for high growth businesses, hiring can be a major barrier to scale. However, building learning into careers from the offset will mean that companies can skill up for more advanced roles from within, rather than dedicating huge resources to finding people in an increasingly competitive market. As an extension of this, onboarding will increasingly make the most of what Edtech has to offer – companies will look to move away from stagnant PowerPoint presentations and towards interactive courses which will provide more concrete guarantees of a worker’s understanding when they begin a role.
Qualifications will evolve to encompass real world skills
In 2022, academic credentials will still carry weight and ultimately be the gatekeepers of employment in many fields. However, there are growing pockets of resistance against academic qualifications being sufficiently representative of one’s abilities, particularly in more technical fields. This is because certification, like a university degree, only provides a broad indication of someone’s abilities. In the year ahead, we will see employers increasingly looking for more granular recordings of skills. For example, when technology businesses are reviewing candidates for developer roles, a Stack Overflow profile can often carry significantly more weight than a CV, as it shows demonstrable abilities rather than what might be an outdated qualification – the trend shows no sign of slowing down.
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Investment is set to boom in the Edtech market
With a number of high profile IPOs in the Edtech sector in the last year, including Coursera and Udemy, investors are acutely aware of the market potential for businesses challenging education: the scale of private investment into Edtech has doubled from 2018 to 2020, from $8 billion to $16 billion. There is no doubt that as this continues to ramp up, unicorns will increasingly emerge from the Edtech sector.
In 2020, the global education market was worth $5.5 trillion. However, a huge portion of that is represented by charitable institutions (e.g. universities) and government. Of the entire market, private companies make up just £200 billion. However in the next year, we will begin to see education move in a similar direction to healthcare, with an increasing collaboration between the public and private sectors. Edtech is the bridge between these worlds – traditional educational institutions are increasingly realising not just the commercial benefits these innovations can bring, but also how they can enhance and improve the educational experience as a whole.
A paradigm shift
The next generation of Edtech has emerged. The first generation took existing learning models and applied them online and this has seen great success. It also involves optimising fringe aspects of these industries within the confines of the existing system, rather than interrogating whether the fundamentals of the system itself can be challenged. This transition can be seen in other industries: linear tv streamed online led to the likes of Netflix, and individual websites for retailers led to Amazon. Edtech companies in 2022 are set to truly challenge the educational status quo – whether it be when we learn, who we learn from and especially how we learn. With investment pouring into the sector, 2022 is going to be the year Edtech goes mainstream.