By Patricia B. Mirasol
The question edutech companies should ask themselves is if they’re solving the right problems. “The industry is indeed benefiting from COVID-19’s tailwinds, but there’s a diversification in solutions. Are you solving urgent needs?,” said Koji Takahashi, chief marketing officer of venture capital firm Edulab, in a panel discussion at the Ignite 2020 Cyber conference.
More than execution, he added, success depends on which battlefield you choose to do business in, whether it’s online proctoring, internships between corporations and universities, or learning management systems (LMS).
“If you’re an LMS, post-pandemic, how can you make sure that you’re still relevant?,” said Iman Usman, co-founder and chief of product and partnership of tutoring platform Ruangguru.
The pandemic has boosted innovations in learning and teaching, and has opened opportunities for edutech startups. It has also highlighted the need for continuous upskilling and reskilling to avoid automation risk.
“The higher your education, the more cognitive skills and teamwork abilities for leadership you have,” said Lucia Figar de Lacalle, chairwoman of IE Rockets, IE University’s startup education accelerator. She anticipates that in-demand areas of expertise will include cloud computing, artificial intelligence, analytical reasoning, machine learning, and user experience (UX) design.
In her keynote, Ms. Lacalle said that the end is nigh for the one-size-fits-all education system. Supported by artificial intelligence, educators will soon be able to determine what sequence of topics is more effective for each student, which actions will lead to better outcomes, when each student is ready to move on to the next topic, and what topics can be better taught offline.
At the heart of all these inroads toward digital acceleration are the human aspects of instilling one’s love for learning and applying the best pedagogical approach for each individual.
Edutech stakeholders must not forget the teachers as the world shifts toward a blended form of learning. Not all of them are comfortable with tools like Zoom and Google Classroom, the use of which has grown by leaps and bounds this quarantine.
“The best tools aren’t optimally useful without the best teachers,” said Mohan Belani, CEO of tech ecosystem platform e27.
Added Ruangguru’s Mr. Usman: “Edutech is new and we are still experimenting, but we need to make sure that the pedagogy is correct.”