For the very first time, edtech will step into another year with a strong footing as 2020 was the big bang year for the sector. As the traditional education system closed its doors, the new reality brought remote learning and edtech solutions to the fore. Even investors saw a great opportunity and freed up funds for edtech startups, which ended up cracking some of the biggest deals in India, third only to fintech and enterprise tech.
According to Inc42 Plus estimates edtech startups raised more than $1.43 Bn across 100 deals between January 1 to December 15, 2020. Interestingly, edtech wasn’t even considered in the list of top five segments, when it came to fundraising amount or deal. Inc42 Plus’ estimates reveal that edtech was among the least funded segments across 46 deals in 2019.
The funding in edtech may have increased significantly, but it is also important to note that it was largely concentrated on edtech giants. BYJU’S raised about 57% of the total funding in the segment, the latest unicorn Unacademy raised about 10.4%, and Vedantu has raised 9.5%.
Edtech has seen phenomenal growth in the addressable market, users, paid subscribers, and, most importantly, revenue. Since the lockdown was announced in March, BYJU’S added 33 Mn users to a cross user base of 75 Mn, Unacademy user base tripped to 40 Mn. Similar growth was witnessed by other edtech companies as the market size has increased.
As the traditional educational institutions became out of reach, edtech solutions became an effective alternative to keep the flow of knowledge going. From K12 to higher education, the Indian edtech ecosystem has been witnessing some of the biggest trends in 2020.
Edtech Trends That Emerged In 2020
B2B Edtech Target Traditional Institutions, Teachers:
The B2B edtech startups and services, which enabled teachers and educational institutions to take their work online, gained momentum as the schools and tuitions remained shut. This not only ensured that learning remained uninterrupted but also prepped up traditional institutions for the future of edtech.
Vedantu CEO and cofounder Vamsi Krishna noted that startups have triggered the traditional Indian educational institutions to take up an online approach. He believes that startups and schools investing in technology has brought about this change.
Gamification Of Learning And Rise Of Edutainment
You can’t always have your cake and eat it too, but in this case, you can. Gamification has gained immense popularity among edtech startups — like Toppr, PlayAblo, Cuemath, BYJU’S and others — because of its feel-good factor. Learning through games and puzzles also makes it easier for students to understand a concept in a more practical way and generate greater interest.
Beyond gamification, startups have also started taking steps to make education more interesting with the medium of interactive videos, music and proprietary stories-based curriculum. Some young startups in this domain have been Kiddopia, Kutuki Kids Learning, TinyTapps, Enguru, and Lido Learning.
This approach is also a favorite among parents for the interactive approach.
Commenting on the same, Toppr’s CEO and founder, Zishaan Hayath, said, “The adoption of gamification technology through concept simulation, incentive-based learning, and level advancement badges will gain popularity to drive user engagement and enhance the experience. The integration of such technology will help develop and design a customized offering by analyzing and evaluating the individuals better.”
AI Personalises Education
One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to education. Personalized learning to every student seems like a herculean task, especially in a remote learning environment. But artificial intelligence (AI) has sprung up new opportunities for personalization across sub-sectors of edtech. Data-driven insights have become integral to increase student retention and their interest as well.
Coding, Tech Courses For Kids:
If you have followed edtech this year, then you may already have an opinion on this trend. “Don’t teach your kids to code” has been a major mood for tech Twitter as WhiteHat Jr has been climbing the ladder of success. The company grew into a trendsetter of coding for the kids segment within the short span of two years. It not only achieved a run rate of $150 Mn and 4.2 Mn annual paid subscribers but also got acquired by edtech giant BYJU’S.
There are several other startups in this segment as well, which includes IIT Madras-incubated startup HackerKID that has developed a gamified coding platform, New Delhi-based Coding Ninja and Haryana-based Tekie.
Skilling And Upskilling
About 122 Mn people lost their jobs as of August 2020, as wounded companies accelerated towards digital transformation. Organisations started making data-driven decisions making more important aspects of their survival, and the impact of edtech will also go beyond schooling into upskilling and reskilling.
The pandemic has shown how quickly work itself can change and being upbeat with the latest trends can help minimize the shock. Digital job profiles were the only ones to grow amid the slow market, which gave a spike to skilling platforms SP robotics, Toppr Codr, Udacity and SOAL. The same trend also grew for startups that were solely focusing on helping teachers to come online.
“As per a survey done by Schoolguru, not more than 10% of college professors had ever used any online tools before the pandemic struck. Hence, the teachers need to be trained on the use of online tools, the online teaching pedagogy, the ways to engage learners, the way to read and analyse data, to conduct online assessments and several such things associated with online education. Hence, several service providers rose to the occasion and brought training interventions to help teachers learn ‘how to teach online’,” said Schoolguru Eduserve’s founder and CEO Shantanu Rooj.
Will Edtech Retain 2020 Momentum In 2021?
As per Inc42 Plus estimates, there are about 4,530 active edtech startups in India but even the number is bound to increase rapidly with the increased interest of both investors and customers. The year 2020 has truly been a golden year for edtech and the same momentum is expected in 2021 as well as even policies are bound to get more edtech friendly.
The Indian government has taken a keen interest to provide better infrastructure and remote-learning opportunities for all students across rural and urban settings with the launch of the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) that emphasizes creating standards of learning in public and private schools. The policy aims to implement educational technology in public colleges and schools to increase access for disadvantaged groups, at the same time making online learning content available in regional languages.
The policy has also proposed to set up virtual labs, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), to make the Indian education system more tech-friendly. The government is also focusing on continuous tracking of learning outcomes, conceptual learning, tech-enabled pedagogy in middle school, coding and more. This policy is bound to have a positive impact on the edtech segment as India takes off into a more inclusive and advanced digital learning journey.
Edtech Trends Anticipated In 2021
- Learning management systems for colleges and schools
- Inclusive and affordable remote learning
- Teacher-focused or digital transformation solutions
- Alternate learning or non-traditional models
- Home-schooling solutions
- Monitoring and proctoring solutions for examinations, assessments
The edtech sector is likely to build on the more welcoming policy seen in 2020 and continue the momentum into 2021. But the big challenge for these startups will be bridging intrinsic gaps such as the digital divide, equitable access to the internet, power and hardware such as computers or smartphones, along with addressing the affordability quotient — both of which are lacking at the moment.