By Brendan Kelly, Market Executive, Enterprise Ireland, New York
The recent growth of the education technology industry has been sensational. Last year, we saw the U.S. market peak with venture capital and private equity firms investing close to $1.5 billion into start-ups. This trend has been steadily increasing for close to 10 years. Primarily, the evolution of EdTech is driven by the demand of a new generation of users who want their education experience to harmonize with their digital connectedness, and insist that their learning must be easier and more accessible. Entrepreneurs and investors are looking to meet this demand.
While EdTech investment interest is up, there are some issues which we see slowing industry progress. One is a lack of end-user resources. Users want to try new technologies but don’t always have the time to explore, or may not have access to the necessary equipment.
There is also significant resistance to change. EdTech is radically changing the way people learn, and many within the industry mistakenly see this as a threat to traditional forms of learning. And finally, privacy issues are of great importance when collecting and using learner data. Companies must invest significant resources in managing this data responsibly and in meeting global privacy, regulatory requirements.
The global importance of EdTech
EdTech is revolutionizing learning! It’s making teaching and learning better, and therefore it’s helping to shape the workforce of tomorrow. To understand this, take a look at the most significant trends in employment. More and more, organizations require people with digital skills. These skills change rapidly, but it’s not feasible to have people repeatedly return to full-time study. Instead, EdTech provides a solution. EdTech can help people keep their digital skills up to date as required.
Technology can take each learner’s identity into account and teach them the way that is most effective for them. For example, if I require visual cues to learn, then perhaps an augmented or virtual reality approach will become an option to help me grasp concepts more readily.
Data and learning analytics are also becoming increasingly more prevalent. It’s now possible to track things like the users’ learning engagement. We will be better able to monitor what users find effective in their learning experience, and what they don’t. AI will then be able to customize the learning experience for each user – making it the most efficient teacher possible.
It’s interesting to see that Irish companies have done very well to get past these obstacles. They are able to partner up with their users and understand how users learn and the resources that are available to them and tailor their products to fit. Irish companies have a strong ability for figuring out what their users genuinely need.
And when we talk about users not having the time or resources to learn new technology, Irish tech companies understand that they make it easy for the user. LearnUpon, for example, is one of the LMS industry’s most disruptive players. LearnUpon‘s robust platform is designed to make managing training efficient and effective, so it adds real value to businesses. The team focuses on building a modern, user-friendly platform for its customers and their learners. Quick to implement and easy-to-use, with this platform, organizations can create a learning portal in minutes and can start training immediately.
Irish companies bring world-class innovation to the table. Our companies have fantastic and diverse offerings across K-12, higher education, and corporate learning. In the K-12 space, we have companies like Soapbox Labs, who have created speech recognition technology for children using state-of-the-art, deep neural network machine learning.
In Higher education, Immersive VR Education is a VR software company dedicated to creating quality educational experiences for all students. Since they opened their doors in 2014, the company has moved in leaps and bounds, releasing a range of educational experiences, and has won several international awards for their software.
In corporate learning, every year, Interactive Services rolls out compliance learning to over 3 million corporate learners across 120 countries in more than 40 languages. They are working with companies such as American Express, Goldman Sachs, Oracle, and Facebook.
The EdTech sector is heavily research-driven, as it should be. Irish companies place significant emphasis on research – this is one of the reasons Irish subject matter experts are consistently rated as some of the most innovative in the world.
Ireland supports 12 national research centers, and we are the leading country in Europe for getting economic value out of the research. EdTech is strong in this area, as we see many of our clients working alongside universities and other higher education institutes to align their offering with scientific research. Many of our companies have even gone as far as efficacy studies to verify the value of their product. This dedication to partnering with research and science-driven organizations has made a significant difference in these companies.
And finally, Irish EdTech companies have a reputation for attracting extraordinarily bright and well-educated employees, and when you look at some of the products they create, it shows. They are companies that are solving some of the world’s most pressing problems. They are coming up with ways to educate every type of learner – from those with special needs to those who learn through sound, or visuals. Irish EdTech companies listen to the market to find out what problems learners need to be solved to succeed.