26 Nov 2021

The present and future of EdTech

The pandemic changed the way we live and work in every sector, but education was arguably the area that felt the changes the most. What has always been a predominantly in-person environment, especially for children in schools, had to find new ways of operating at a distance without suffering too much disruption to its quality of work.

But the situation wasn’t without its solutions, and hundreds of excellent EdTech platforms either came to the fore or were developed to meet the challenges of the pandemic. The adoption of those platforms might have been more forced than gradual. But the last eighteen months has in many ways accelerated a need for change within the sector, to use the power of digital technology to improve accessibility to learning.

Kickstarting a much-needed adoption of tech

As has been the case for many sectors, the technology to facilitate remote education wasn’t brand new for 2020. Distance learning has been a core offering from institutions like the Open University for decades, and tools like remote desktops and online learning portals were already commonplace in schools and universities.

But although the tech has been around for a while, the drive to put it into practice hasn’t. Before the pandemic, the education sector globally spent just 3.6% of its expenditure on digital learning tools and services. 

Needless to say, this is no longer the case. By the first half of 2021, Venture Capital investment in EdTech in Europe registered 68% more funding ($1.8bn) than the entirety of 2020.  

In many cases the biggest obstacle to digital adoption is a fear of the unknown. Having never had to deliver learning online before, many institutions worried that such a shift would be less effective than classroom-based teaching, more prone to disruption, or even encourage students to skip more classes.

But with over a billion children worldwide out of the classroom in 2020, not to mention the impact on adult education as well, the need to adapt has forced the sector to confront those assumptions. And as those assumptions change, a huge opportunity has emerged for innovative products to help drive transformation.

Virtual tutoring funded by the National Tutoring Programme has been instrumental in helping many students catch up with learning they missed during the disruption caused by the pandemic. Due to its success, the scheme is set to continue through the 2021 and 2022, with organisations like MyTutor, who have worked with over 1000 schools, boosting education for the pupils that need it and relieving some of the burden shouldered by school teachers. 

Far from being less effective than traditional face-to-face learning, EdTech has been found to boost student retention rates by between 25% and 60%, as learners are able to revisit areas they don’t understand without the pressure of asking for help in a classroom. While in the workplace, training and development courses have been found to be completed 60% faster when an e-learning platform is used and employees can choose their own pace to study.

Although the overnight crash course in online education tech hasn’t worked for everyone, particularly in parts of the world with a stark digital divide, overall the results have highlighted the need for wider integration across the sector. The sector has become more trusting of the benefits tech can bring, opening the door for a new wave of innovators to take things even further.

Why EdTech still matters after lockdown

As the world emerges from the pandemic, conversation turns to whether we should return to the way things were before or embrace the new ways of operating. Perhaps, in education, we’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole – and discovered too many benefits – to revert completely to the previous model.

That doesn’t mean we’re expecting education to become 100% virtual in the next few years. We’re a long way from the kind of culture shift that’s needed for a move to Ready Player One-style VR schools. And more importantly, we’ve learned through the pandemic that a totally remote learning experience isn’t suitable for every student or situation.

But the last eighteen months has also taught us that EdTech tools have an incredible power to bring education into places it can’t otherwise reach. And by overcoming geography, remote learning platforms mean schools and universities can not only teach students wherever, but also offer them more.

Institutions can source the best teaching talent regardless of location. Specialists and expert guest lecturers from anywhere in the world can deliver a greater diversity of study programmes. As this technology continues to make learning more efficient and accessible, the operational costs of teaching will come down, helping to keep previously budget-threatened subjects alive.

Beyond institutions, EdTech can also help employers to source the best talent. Lambda School offers businesses the opportunity to get matched with potential employees, and even try out a graduate for 4 weeks. Lambda’s innovative payment structure also enables students to defer paying tuition fees until they’ve begun earning more than $50,000 a year, making a technical education more far more accessible. 

With money flowing in and out of the platform, a Lambda-style offering might be an administrative nightmare without embedded finance. But with the right systems under the hood, the costs of EdTech can be kept low, and the user-experience refined to meet user expectations – which will be an

A holistic approach at every level

EdTech is gathering momentum at the same time as user expectations are becoming more demanding. When it comes to digital tools, products and platforms, a clear, intuitive and seamless experience is essential. So as EdTech becomes more prevalent, products need to keep up with those expectations or risk getting left behind.

Payment systems might not be the most obvious priority for an EdTech platform. But whether it’s parents paying their child’s tutor, university students sorting out their accommodation costs or apprenticeship training providers dealing with government funding, finance is a core component in creating an elegant student experience.

The world of EdTech is currently full of great tutoring and learning platforms that are fantastic at the job they do, but it’s still rare for them to incorporate embedded payment systems. Whenever a user is redirected from one service to another to complete what they see as one simple process, their experience suffers.

For an alternative, take a look at myskillcamp. It’s an online marketplace that enables businesses to design engaging and personalised learning experiences. It connects a company’s employees with myskillcamp’s 300,000+ professionals. 

Crucially, it’s not limited. myskillcamp content can be provided directly on a business’s learning management system (LMS) or on the myskillscamp’s platform. And they even allow employees to purchase training content that’s external to myskillcamp, as part of one seamless experience. 

myskillcamp does this using Weavr’s virtual cards. Their business clients preload these cards with funds and pass them to their employees. Employees can then use those cards to buy their own professional development. Weavr also provides myskillcamp and each employer with oversight and controls, so that the funds on each card are spent solely on learning.

Wherever payment platforms are needed, there’s an opportunity for invisible finance systems to be woven in for a fully holistic user experience. Like with Squirrelled, a service that facilitates group payments from families looking to help their children with university fees. Embedded finance helps you to weave disparate threads together to make a new, seamless product , and Weavr make this an accessible and affordable option for you.

Embedding financial services into your product or service has never been simpler. The Weavr platform provides everything you need to integrate financial services seamlessly into your mobile app or SaaS application, safely, smoothly, and without the usual compliance burden. You can easily and quickly integrate banking capabilities such as cards, accounts and IBANs into your UX and workflows, for a seamless customer experience that directly enhances your offering.

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