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Opportunities for EdTech lie in the cogs

30 December 2015

A while back we ran went to the Dublin Web Summit and wrote an article on the state of EdTech as we saw it there, in the context of the European startup ecology. A few weeks ago, I stumbled on this an article by Lucy Boyd in TechCrunch where she discusses the focus of the EdTech sector and how while business is booming, there are many areas being over-looked:

The trajectory of edtech investments in the past few years illustrates the lack of focus on teacher evaluation and accountability. In 2012, investors staked more than $1.25 billion in the edtech industry — a number that grew by 35 percent in 2013. Most of this investment was focused on companies creating MOOCs, tutoring platforms such as Khan Academy or learning software.

This trend continued into 2014 as the edtech industry reached $1.36 billion, with the largest sums going toward tech companies focused on improving professional, language and math skills. Setting aside professional skills for adults, K-12 tech investments in 2014 were almost entirely student-centric, with the exception of a $64 million investment in Teachers Pay Teachers, an open marketplace for educators to share resources.

So, things are great, no? No, we live at a time when opportunity is prevalent and money chases money. But that is sometimes the problem, leaving important issues on the periphery of industry focus, subsequently making it more difficult to attract that money in the first place.

Lucy makes interesting points, demonstrating the importance of teacher evaluation and accountability to the overall aim — a better education system:

To increase teacher quality, stakeholders support robust teacher evaluation and accountability practices. Recent research out of Stanford finds that consistent evaluation can actually make teachers better at their craft. In high-performing schools and districts, teacher evaluation and accountability is often a priority, and is considered a best practice.

Here at Call for Participants, we share this line of thought at higher level - the foundation of a great education system is more complex than an efficient and up-to-date knowledge transfer mechanism. Participant recruitment, like teacher evaluation, is a large niche. Just another of those often over-looked cogs in the system that play an immense role in delivering a successful and fruitful education experience. We believe start-ups are ideally placed to tackle these issues because of small size and agility, making it easy to provide useful solutions to these large niche markets. In other words - let's solve a specific problem well.

And let's hope there are enough smart investors to see that the untrodden paths (EdTech does not equal MOOCs) are often the most rewarding.

To read the whole of Lucy's article, click here and to keep up with more education policy and reform things from here, check out her Twitter account.

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