EdTech entrepreneurs are mobilising to provide solutions to parents and children struggling to cope with the demands of homeschooling during protracted COVID-19 lockdowns.
However there are concerns that a rush to adopt new education technologies may lead to poorer learning outcomes in the long term.
In April the OECD estimated school closures globally were affecting the education of nearly 1 billion children.
COVID-19 homeschooling has seen surging interest in education technologies, with homeschooling startup Primer the latest to lock in investment with a $US3.7 million seed round led by Founders Fund.
Next month global thought leaders, education providers, and industry participants will discuss the future of education technologies as part of Melbourne EdTech Summit – a city that has closed schools amid protracted lockdowns.
The Summit comes at a profound juncture for EdTech, but even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector was experiencing significant growth.
An Deloitte-EduGrowth industry study shows global venture capital investments in EdTech reached $AU7 billion in 2019, up from $AU500 million in 2014 – and that between 2017 and 2019, the Australian EdTech sector grew significantly, almost doubling in size.
Those figures are expected to grow exponentially in the wake of COVID-19.
However the surge in market interest has sparked concerns about the risk of rushed products that may actually hinder the education of students.
A recent academic report in the Postdigital Science and Education journal says the unprecedented push online has created a sellers’ market in EdTech with “possible problems arising from hasty adoption of commercial digital learning solutions whose design might not always be driven by best pedagogical practices, but their business model that leverages user data for profit-making.”
“This is a critical moment to reflect how the current choices educational institutions are making might affect with COVID-19 education and online learning,” states the report authors.
Issues that look likely to become increasingly important, as COVID-19 and the resulting school shutdowns remain in place in many parts of the world.