17 Aug Six Edtech Businesses Leading The Way During Lockdown
Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, record amounts of investment have flowed into the digital education market, with forecasts suggesting the sector will near double in value to $325bn by 2025.
Even before the pandemic, edtech businesses such as the language learning service Duolingo were growing at pace. It reached unicorn status last year after closing a $30m funding round that valued the business at $1.5bn. Duolingo was soon followed by Quizlet, which trains students via flashcards and various games and tests.
However, these success stories could be just the start for edtech. With classrooms closed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, educators scrambled to move learning online and start-ups offering an array of digital solutions have blossomed. And businesses increasingly see edtech as the key to providing staff with crucial training, support and career development.
The UK has always been a leader in the edtech sector, with over half of 16-24-year-olds using online learning materials and 29% enrolled in online courses. But this is a global phenomenon. Here are just six edtech businesses taking the market by storm
Esme Learning harnesses group collaboration technologies developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and hopes to revolutionize online learning for business executives.
The company’s platform is powered by Riff, a cloud-based video and text chat platform that acts as a personal digital coach to provide objective data-driven assessments in real time that help optimize learning. Through enhanced engagement and retention, students enjoy significantly higher completion and success rates.
Esme Learning’s leadership team recently completed Oxford Cyber Futures, a six-week online course run by the University of Oxford and Saȉd Business School.
Outschool provides live online lessons that connect tutors with children aged between three and 18 in a variety of traditional subjects including maths, Spanish, baking, art and reading. It also supports extracurricular classes such as weather forecasting, Pokemon and Minecraft lessons.
With the pandemic igniting global interest in home schooling and online learning, Outschool experienced a 30-fold increase in demand as parents sought new ways for their children to learn and have fun.
Outschool does not disclose revenue numbers but has received $12m in series A funding from major US venture capital firms including Union Square Ventures and Reach Capital.
Cologne-based how.fm targets a sector that has largely been ignored by technology innovation, focusing its efforts on blue-collar workers. Its tools are aimed at workers who don’t sit at a desk all day, including staff in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and agriculture.
The deskless workforce numbers 2.7 billion people worldwide, but it’s estimated that only 1% of enterprise software funding has gone towards industries that pay manual workers on hourly rates.
This is the gap in the market that how.fm expects to exploit. It provides digital onboarding, training and retraining to workers in their native tongue and allows users to create step-by-step training videos for their employees.
The UK-based start-up operates as a digital marketplace that helps parents find, contact and book local tutors for one-to-one tuition, either face-to-face or online, and covers more than 300 subjects from primary years all the way up to Ph.D. level.
Since launching in 2015, more than 100,000 students have used Tutorful to take over a million lessons. They communicate via video conferencing, document sharing and interactive whiteboards.
Last year Tutorful secured a £3.2m investment to help expand its services across the UK.
Firefly is another edtech start-up experiencing a surge in popularity, with demand jumping 13-fold during the lockdown and user numbers exceeding one million across 40 countries.
The London-based firm’s apps are now used in 500 schools around the UK to help teachers, pupils and parents with homework and marking.
Firefly also provides each school with a website, enabling teachers to plan lessons, share educational content and run societies. That pits it against larger rivals such as Microsoft Teams for Education and Google Classroom, but the company is holding its own.
Online learning isn’t all about studying maths or acquiring a new language – the stresses and strains of coping with the pandemic has seen a rise in people wanting to either learn or improve their music skills.
Based in Berlin, music education start-up Skoove markets itself as “the easiest way to learn piano” and provides interactive lessons that include both sheet music and hand positions.
With time on their hands during the lockdown, more than a million wannabe musicians have been using Skoove’s software to hook up their keyboards and see if they’re hitting the right notes at the right time.
In April, the business completed a €3m funding round to expand its offering and fund growth in its core markets of North America and Europe.