5 EdTech Trends Founders Should Know for 2024
- Prominent trends in the educational technology sector
- How EdTech founders can leverage and support these trends
The EdTech market* was valued at $111 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 20.5%, reaching $339 billion by 2027.
EdTech founders and investors may have opportunities to capitalize on changing trends, as the rush towards hybrid learning eases, and personalized learning, AI, augmented reality, diversity, and other strategies draw attention. At the heart of each trend is an eye for improvement in student interaction and engagement, teacher efficiency and data analysis, and district-wide data integration for enhanced learning.
Here’s what to pay attention to, and possibly consider mergers and acquisitions around, in 2024.
1. Personalized Learning
It’s here to stay—gone are the days of a teacher lecturing in the front of the room with 30 students facing them in rows, completing the same exercise in unison. In fact, now that’s seen as inadequate teaching by many teacher evaluation standards. Tools that personalize learning help evaluate, through the use of AI and other means, what a student needs, and give them access to that on the spot.
Some analysts predict that personalization, along with improved data analysis to be able to effectively personalize, is the future of EdTech. Given this, founders can look to prioritize specific personalization plans integrated into their software, apps, and content.
This might look like adaptive lessons, self-paced instruction, integrated feedback freeing teachers up to focus on small group intervention, and digital access to learning after hours. Other companies might prioritize "turn in" features that are tightly aligned to students’ skills and learning style preferences, researchers conclude.
2. Cautious & Intentional AI Integration
Some districts charged into AI, towards tools using it in the earliest days of integration, before the pandemic and the newest surge of interest in AI. Others held back, worried about student privacy and ethics, optimal integration, and training for all educators before diving in. Now, founders may find themselves in the in between, though more districts are leaning towards tools that integrate AI across all facets of EdTech capabilities.
Some experts even think in the next 5-10 years, those without AI capabilities will essentially become completely irrelevant. But, they also recommend investing in companies willing to make minor adaptations for major payoff for both the vendor and the district.
Specifically, investors might prioritize tools and companies offering tailored and targeted feedback, along the lines of the personalized learning discussed above. As of August 2023, only 1 in 10 teachers has used AI in the classroom already, and 6 in 10 found the tools unhelpful, EdWeek reports. This is an untapped market of educators who want it to work, but haven’t had promising experiences yet.
3. Intentional Integration of Augmented Reality
If students are already gaming with it at home, why shouldn’t they be learning with it through school? That’s the mindset behind some AR or VR capabilities worth exploring in your 2024 investment strategy. A McGraw Hill report indicates that once educators integrate AR, they find it useful—though only a quarter are familiar, most of those who have adopted it use it at least once a week.
This provides founders with a glimpse into the excitement around what can happen when a useful AR/VR EdTech tool makes it into the hands of the right district, leading to potential word-of-mouth recommendations of that specific brand.
Investors will likely look to back companies who have specific plans for addressing VR challenges, though, and founders should look into what opportunities this could present for them. From equipment management to the need for battery life, high speed internet, and specific implementation training, VR must include wrap-around services to prove successful and useful to districts.
4. Increased Direct Collaboration
Before, district leaders were the middleman, and there was little direct communication between an EdTech provider and educators in most scenarios. Now, given the uptick in chat, troubleshooting features, and community platforms integrated into tools to help teachers collaborate around the world, founders can prioritize those features moving towards direct teacher relationships for student-facing tools.
Developing teacher agency could become a mainstay in lasting EdTech tools, so teachers can feel empowered to integrate technology effectively, rather than "having" to do it based on a superior’s recommendation.
Founders could prioritize working with educators directly, to help ensure they are getting tailored implementation training and troubleshooting, without a middleman in the way. This may also help increase the likelihood of re-upping contracts, if the teacher is finding the technology invaluable in the classroom, like the 74% of VR-integrated educators above who use it weekly since trying it.
5. Prioritizing Diversity
Now that remote work has made international collaboration easier, some companies are expanding into Latin America and other companies to optimize cultural diversity in their hiring practices. Others are promoting the importance of including diverse voices in their leadership and hiring processes, as companies promoting a diverse education tool without living that reality themselves likely won’t live up to their sales promises.
In fact, a recent Educause presentation taught intentionality in supplier diversity, encouraging districts to do business with suppliers from diverse backgrounds, who are more able to "promote economic equity and social justice." In addition, they say doing this will improve marginalized communities' participation in the mainstream economy, modeling what EdTech leaders presumably want for all students as well.
Founders can look to companies that already have communicated an extensive diversity plan in their hiring and make a commitment to implement a plan of their own and to help make themselves more attractive to districts and investment opportunities.
The M&A Outlook
From a market perspective, EdTech has seen dramatic swings in the last few years, from increased demand and M&A in the wake of the pandemic and a shift to remote learning to the pending reduction of funding sources and then AI disrupting the space. Now, key shifts in educator focus around personalization, a calmed and collected mentality around AI and VR, and an increased emphasis on diversity will likely be at the forefront of M&A decision making.
As the EdTech market that continues to evolve in 2024, it is possible investors could expect ongoing capital increases with mergers and acquisitions providing potentially numerous opportunities for growth. Given this, founders looking to sell during a growth phase to capitalize on the strategies above should use key SaaS milestones to determine if the time is right for them. Their future success, and students facing a new frontier in EdTech innovations, could depend on their careful thought and analysis.
This material and the opinions voiced are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or entity.
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