In recent years, the world witnessed a significant surge in the adoption of educational technology – more popularly known as edtech. The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools and educational institutions to quickly adapt to the new normal of remote learning, leading to an unprecedented demand for digital tools and platforms. This boom (often referred to as the ‘pandemic bump’) revolutionised the education sector. Aldenham Education Group’s Managing Partner, Shahram Hashemi, has years of experience in both the education and investment sectors – last month, the globally-renowned non-profit Qatar Foundation invited him to the Global Education Forum & WISE @ Medellin Conference to shed some light on the future of education. Will edtech continue to grow and innovate, or was it a necessity during the pandemic? And as the world returns to normality, it raises the question – what’s next for edtech? Shahram Hashemi took to the stage at the international event to share his expertise and insights, and explain how today’s academic institutions are shaping the future of education.
The growth of edtech
GEF & Wise brought together education leaders and experts from across the globe, and all of them agreed that the pandemic had a drastic effect on schools – as they were forced to close, there was a rapid shift to remote learning. This caused problems at first, as many schools had never offered their students any kind of remote learning before 2020. Schools and teachers had to alter the way they taught students, and they turned to new rising technologies like AI or VR. These and other edtech innovations make learning more effective, both in and out of the classroom. The increased demand for this technology drove innovation, which in turn drove investment. In 2021, the global edtech industry saw almost $21 billion (£16.7 billion) of funding from venture capitalists – far more than in 2019, which saw just $7 billion (£5.5 billion) go towards edtech businesses.
The pandemic might be over, but many believe it’s reshaped the education sector forever. As schools have reopened and students have returned to classrooms, there’s been a shift towards hybrid learning models, which combine in-person teaching with digital tools. The pandemic highlighted the benefits of online learning, such as flexibility and accessibility, and these advantages are here to stay. Edtech is set to play a crucial role in supporting the transition to hybrid learning – with many schools seamlessly integrating technology into their classrooms. Here at Aldenham’s schools, we always look to the future and seek out new ways of utilising new technology in our schools. At Aldenham Prep Riyadh, all of our classrooms have interactive screens to enhance students’ learning experience, while the school’s Learning Resource Center features computers and a VR system, so students can engage with new subjects in immersive ways.
One of the biggest benefits of edtech lies in its ability to personalise education, and allow teachers to cater to individual students’ needs. With AI-powered adaptive learning technologies, teachers can analyse student data and create individual curriculums designed around each student’s strengths and weaknesses. This more tailored approach helps students to learn at their own pace, and be better equipped to overcome challenges. There’s been a lot of advancements in AI in recent years, and although schools have banned AI chatbots like ChatGPT, this technology is set to transform the education sector. If the edtech industry continues to grow, we can expect to see more advancements around AI and personalised learning.
Although edtech grew exponentially throughout the pandemic, that growth appears to have stunted post-pandemic. In fact, 2023 has been dubbed ‘edtech’s year of reckoning.’ A recent report by HolonIQ found that last year, there was $10.6 billion (£8.4 billion) of investment in edtech – around 49% of the investment in 2021. With schools around the world no longer forced to use edtech solutions to teach their students, many stopped using edtech altogether, and many edtech companies have scaled back. Despite this fall in investment, there’s still demand for edtech, and with new advances in technology all the time, new companies are springing up and offering innovative solutions. Edtech is increasingly important, as it teaches students valuable skills, and gets them more engaged in their education, setting them up for later life. At Aldenham, we aim to support our children as much as possible, and pride ourselves on investing in the latest edtech and cutting-edge facilities wherever possible.
The future of edtech
A paper in Nature Human Behaviour found that students lost out on about 35% of a normal school year’s worth of learning over the course of the pandemic. Governments and organisations around the world need to work to make learning more accessible for students, and edtech is the most effective way of achieving this. While the pandemic accelerated the adoption of edtech, it also exposed the digital divide that exists among students worldwide.
UNESCO reported that at least 463 million – or nearly one-third – of students around the world don’t have the right devices or reliable connections, and can’t access remote learning facilities. As the edtech sector continues to grow, work needs to be done to address this issue and bridge this digital divide. Governments and educational institutions alike need to be investing in edtech companies to ensure no student is left behind. AEG has expert first-hand knowledge of the education market, and we can offer guidance for edtech businesses. One way of supporting edtech firms is by trialling new technologies in schools – not only do schools and students benefit from using these solutions, but edtech firms also get much-needed feedback to be as effective as possible.
The pandemic brought edtech into the spotlight, showcasing its potential to transform education. With the pandemic now over, the future of edtech lies in hybrid learning, personalised learning, and making education more accessible for all. While there are challenges, edtech offers a brighter future for education. We need to be working towards creating a more inclusive learning environment for all students, just as we strive to do here at Aldenham. To find out more about what edtech trends you should be looking out for, have a read of one of our recent blogs.