EdTech Apps and the Future of Education

July 27, 2016 | Rob LaPointe

The intersection between technological innovations like mobile apps and websites get a ridiculous amount of attention these days. From apps like Pokemon Go to apps for artificial intelligence, it seems like there is no end to what technology can do for business.

However, one of the areas in which tech has had the biggest impact (and the most financially successful) is one of the least talked about: Education. While plenty of big economists and business prodigies track edtech (it’s a common topic on notable business journals such as Forbes), it’s not as sexy or as cool as VR or AI.

But as any savvy entrepreneur knows, sexiness isn’t everything. I mean, it helps of course. But Semiconductor MFG isn’t sexy; it’s still one of the highest grossing and fastest growing industries in the states.

Don’t believe me? Well let’s take a look at some edtech numbers, and some of the best edtech apps on the market.

The Economics of Edtech and Edtech Apps

As of 2015, Forbes found that there was roughly $2.3 Billion invested in K-12 EdTech by VCs and Angel Investors since 2010 (by the way, LA is one of the biggest markets for this field! Read more here). While that’s a sizeable number, it’s not jaw droppingly huge. But there’s context:

1. The last time Edtech received investment at all was 1999-2000 – and even then it was ‘only’ $1 billion.

2. 2013 and 2015 saw some of the highest investment in EdTech, ever. With about 200 VCs involved in at least 1 EdTech project, it’s safe to say that there is significant movement in the funding side of this growth industry.

3. Investors aren’t really concerned about how long it will take to reach revenue generation. They recognize this is industry has an extremely high revenue potential – but it may take sometime to get there.

The other point investors are excited about is that EdTech has extreme sustainability. Pokemon Go is far more likely to fade quickly. Education will always benefit from clever applications of new technologies.

4. In the first quarter of 2016, downloads of apps for edtech grew by 13%.

So hopefully we’ve made a good argument for the overall potential of the EdTech industry. Now why don’t we narrow our focus to look at few apps that are behind these numbers.

The Best EdTech Apps

We wanted to focus on Duolingo, an edtech app company that just recently released a new revolutionary app, TinyCards.

Duolingo cut it’s teeth in app industry with an extremely popular language learning app. The app isn’t the subject of todays topic, but it’s a great app so please check it out. While everyone expected the company’s next app to be math-based, but instead the company decided to focus elsewhere. In fact, TinyCards was entirely unexpected.

This wonderful app has digitized the age-old study tool of flashcards. Simple, boring but extremely effective. How effective? 5% of SmartPhone users, or 100 million globally are using it. Compare that Pokemon Go which has everyone frothing at the mouth with 9.53 million users.

Even more importantly, TinyCards has about 30 million monthly active users – a significant number closely monitored by industry watchers. The secret behind their success? Simple: revolutionizing an existing service.

That’s the wonderful thing about the app industry: all you need is a few thousand dollars and a simple idea to make it big. Well, that and the right development team!

Socrative allows teachers to engage with students via a technological platform. Teachers can monitor students, track their comprehension, even tools to help teachers grade. This is a great edtech tool for both teachers and students.

♦ Teaching children how to code websites and apps is one of the most important areas of education today. Within a few years, Coding will be held up there with other core classes such as Math and English. The good news is that some of the best edtech apps on the market are designed for just that purpose:

Scratch isn’t technically an app (though there is ScratchJR for young kids – teaching starts early!), but it’s a fully functional website designed by the wizards at MIT – yup that MIT. It lets kids create all sorts of cool coding projects from games to simple animations, to full-blown stories. So in addition to teaching kids to code, they’re stimulating critical thinking and further reading comprehension (via story building).

CreScerance teaches kids how to actually make apps! Pretty cool right? Unfortunately it’s similar to Scratch in that it’s not a mobile phone app. But the site is mobile and works great on an iPad or tablet.

Tellagami is a really cool app that lets kids create digital avatars. These avatars can then be moved throughout a digital world to learn about everything from general biology to history.

Coursera is different in focus from the rest of the tech solutions discussed previously. It’s a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) and focuses on continuing adult education courses. It’s particular merit-based achievement system has provided a certain edge and fame in the world of EdTech.

No matter if you want to focus on edtech apps for higher education or on the k-12 market, there is huge potential for growth – and money. EdTech stands to be one of the biggest industries in the next 30 years. All you need is a great idea and a phone to call the experts at SDI!

Get Involved in this Growth Industry

We know how to make money making apps for any industry, from education to Healthcare. Our experts can help you crack the edtech code. Give us a call at 408.621.8481 or 408.805.0495 for a free consultation and quote. You can contact us by email too!

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