Due to the spread of Coronavirus, over 180 countries have authorised school closures, affecting approximately 1.6 billion children and youth. Despite the staggering statistic, one must acknowledge that it is a measure that has been enforced worldwide to curb COVID positive cases from escalating. However, prolonged school closures affects employability and human capital formation in the long run. EdTech companies in pandemic are working with great fervour to bridge this gap.
These companies are transforming learning experiences with the safety of staying home. Between January and July 2020, the global venture funding for EdTech companies reached $4.1 billion. As of October 2020, China’s Yuanfudao is the world’s most valuable EdTech company, having raised $2.2 billion, followed by India’s Byju’s. With different companies targeting different groups of leaners, the following are some of the categories of EdTech Firms:
- K-12 (for children, students from kindergarten to class 12)
- Language Learning
- Digital Libraries
- Education Management (Curriculum building, Student engagement)
- Workforce Development (focussing on employees and training)
- General e-Learning (Coursera, Udemy, etc.)
These categories are neither watertight nor exhaustive but help in studying the growth of the industry. In addition, there exists a multitude of Augmented and Virtual Reality apps such as Star Chart and Boulevard that bring astronomy and art history to life. Unmersiv, for instance, makes use of VR to transport learners back in time, to ancient Egypt or Greece. These apps could fit into more than one category. Gaming technology is also a part of the rapidly developing EdTech, wherein students can learn by doing. For instance, Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health along with Tata Interactive Systems developed a simulation-based app for students to practically navigate the world of forensic trends and other issues in healthcare.
Besides VR and Gamification, the largest contribution of EdTech, that is gaining momentum worldwide, is the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) model. Although this model has existed for over a decade, with the New York Times christening 2012 “Year of the MOOC”, the pandemic has been a catalyst in bringing these platforms to the forefront. The USP of MOOCs during their initial period was to address the skills gap that existed between traditional degrees and the requirements of the industry. In addition to new learners, it also helped professions to stay updated and equip themselves with specialised knowledge. Udacity, for instance, offers nanodegrees which are recognised by different industries. Training for competitive exams was also made available across the globe. All you needed was an internet connection! With the pandemic, the role of global MOOC platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy and EdX has expanded to balance the loss of learning caused by temporary school closures. Coursera, one of the biggest international portals offering hundreds of MOOCs announced a 644% increase in enrolment during the pandemic. As of May 2020, it has a student database of over 56 million of which 18.5 million learners are from the US and India.