Category Archives: Reports & Analysis

Reports and Analysis in education.

Mobile Internet Users in China 2014

EdTech Trends: 557 million Mobile Internet Users in China

According to data released by the CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) the number of mobile Internet users in China rose by over 11% to 557 million in 2014 compared to 2013.

This means that over 86% of Internet users in Mainland China are accessing the web via their mobile phone, an increase by 5%.

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EdTech Trends Myanmar

EdTech Trends: Myanmar

It is quite fascinating to follow Myanmar’s rise as a tech, edtech and thus startup destination in general these days given that the reign of the military junta only ended in 2011. As Myanmar is now slowly opening itself to new influences, the first telecommunications companies entered the country just about two and a half years ago.

Sure, all in all we should be careful in making assumptions too quickly as the country is still in the very early stages of its modern development. Nevertheless, there are a number of indicators that confirm how the country might leapfrog some of the stages developing countries usually go through when it comes to technology.

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Qualcomm

Qualcomm works on a Blueprint for Mobile Education to Offset Shrinking Smartphone Sales

Chipmaker Qualcomm announced the acquisition of mobile learning platform EmpoweredU for an undisclosed sum. Founded in 2011, EmpoweredU pivoted and changed names several times before settling on its current model, a mobile centered learning platform based upon the Canvas LMS. The EmpoweredU team will be integrated in Qualcomm’s other mobile focused education initiatives.

The company also announced that it has invested in Wowo, a mobile edtech startup through its new $150 million strategic fund for China which focuses on Internet, e-commerce, semiconductor, education and health. Wowo is targeting the pre-school English market.

At first glance these announcements seem to be a bit out of focus. Why does a hardware company want to be in the edtech space?

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EdTech Trends Remittance

EdTech Trends: The Multi Billion Dollar Remittance Market

For developing nations like the Philippines, remittances from oversea workers play an important economic role. According to data from the country’ central bank, remittances made through bank transfers surged 6.1 percent to $10.404 billion in the first five months of 2014 from $9.809 billion in the same period in 2013.

And while this is already an astonishing amount in itself, we must not forget that still a large part of the population is unbanked or underbanked and therefore uses other ways of sending and receiving cash.

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Pearson Global Scale of English

Will Pearson take the English Certification Crown from ETS?

Earlier this month Pearson launched its new Global Scale of English or short GSE. According to Pearson English

“there has never been a globally recognised standard in English – no single way of recognising and quantifying the level of an individual’s English”

which is, of course, something the company aims to change with its new product.

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Chegg Career Center

The Future is Digital: Chegg Quarter 1 2014 Results

Former textbook rental giant turned student hub Chegg reported its Quarter 1 2014 results, and according to CEO Dan Rosensweig

“The first quarter was a strong start to 2014 with Chegg digital revenue growing 66% year-over-year.”

The combined revenue is up 22% from Q1 2013 and now at $74.4 milllion. Although the company still has around 180,000 titles in its print library available for rent, Chegg has clearly moved on from textbook rentals to being a service provider that aims to cater to student needs in various different areas.

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Class Notes

Class Notes Marketplaces – From Buddy Business to Real Business

Editor’s Note: This post has first been published on edcetera – straight talk on edtech.


Class notes or study notes marketplaces really are a fascinating vertical within the education technology startup space. Of course, most of these ventures are too small to be called a startup. They are more of what is called a buddy business where two or three friends come together with the right skills and create a small business that pays enough for beer and parties. Most of these ventures die as soon as the buddies find a real job or are simply too busy to keep the service up and running.

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LinkedIn Direct-to-Profile Certifications

LinkedIn pilots Direct-to-Profile Certifications with Coursera, edX, Lynda, Udemy

Today LinkedIn adds another piece of the puzzle to its user profiles in order to make them the definite online resume with the Direct-to-Profile Certifications pilot program. As you might remember, back in August the professional network opened itself to students and universities, adding the prelude to your professional resume so to speak.

The partnerships that LinkedIn announced today on its company blog will fill in the blanks that currently exist on the lifelong learning and vocational levels. If you now complete a course on Coursera, edX, Udacity, Lynda.com, Pearson, Skillsoft and Udemy you are going to receive an email that lets you add this accomplishment under your certifications category on LinkedIn.

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Google Helpouts

Coursera, Rosetta Stone, Alliance Française among the first to offer Google Helpouts

On Tuesday Google officially announced the launch of their latest product Google Helpouts. I wrote about it back in August already, but now we can browse the categories and get a feeling of what people and companies are going to charge for their service.

Speaking of companies. Interestingly, language learning companies like Rosetta Stone, Alliance Française and Lingo Live are among the first adopters. So is MOOC behemoth Coursera offering a mix of free and paid tutoring sessions for its Machine Learning course.

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Udemy

Udemy’s new Commission Structure: 50% or Nothing

Udemy

Yesterday Udemy’s founder and CEO Eren Bali sent out an email to the instructors using the course marketplace to inform them about upcoming changes in the revenue share structure. From November 1st on the revenue share is going to be based on the source the student comes from. If Udemy brings a student to a course, the revenue share for instructors drops from currently 70% to 50%. If the student comes through the instructor, the revenue share increases from currently 85% to 100% for the instructor.

The reasoning behind these changes are growth. Bali and the team at Udemy believe that through the new structure they are going to be able to invest more resources into marketing, the platform and an affiliate network.

Is 50% commission fair to instructors?

Coming from the instructor’s side of the table I had my fair share of ranting about high commissions on platforms in the past. On the other hand, I totally understand that a platform like Udemy needs to make enough revenue to not only cover cost but to grow, especially when it raised significant venture funding.

And Udemy did something really clever here. I think, it was in the first interview I ever did for EDUKWEST in which Jon Bischke, back then founder & CEO of eduFire, said that marketplaces are a shared effort. The marketplace and its sellers need to work together in order to get customers. And that’s OK as long as the marketplace is actually delivering its promise of promoting the courses / lessons of its instructors in the first place and not relying on their instructors to do all the work themselves.

Attracting top instructors

This led to a killer argument: if you are doing all the work anyway, you can also host and sell your courses on your own. And that’s what top instructors usually did – or they sold their courses to platforms like Lynda.com that offered cash in advance. Udemy’s new revenue structure leaves top instructors who do their own marketing with no good reason not to use Udemy, to the contrary.

Besides getting 100% of the revenue for every student they point to their own courses there is a good chance of winning new customers through the platform and still earning 50%. Instructors also don’t need to care about setting up and maintaining a LMS on their own, don’t need to worry about the payment methods and they get a customer care team for free, as well. Sounds like a pretty compelling offer to me.

The new revenue share also leaves additional percentage points that Udemy can use to attract more affiliates who are generally used to commission between 50% to 75%. But the problem is that at the moment the really interesting courses don’t seem to be on the affiliate list. I dug into the vast back catalog, which is a daunting task in itself due to the huge amount of courses offered on Udemy, yet wasn’t able to find the courses I would be interested to promote.

Issues to solve

Maybe more quality courses will show up in the affiliate section when the new revenue share kicks in but this brings us to the biggest problem Udemy is facing to my mind: quality control. There is a certain waypoint in a marketplace when crappy content outnumbers the good or great one. I feel Udemy is past that point and it gets harder and harder to find good courses via the platform itself. Sure, if the entry point is the website or social profile of an instructor, the way to purchase is pretty straight forward. But if they land on Udemy and have to skim through tons of courses on the same topic, read the ratings and compare the prices it’s a different situation.

But that’s what Udemy needs to achieve, especially under the new revenue share model. Students who buy one course through a lead coming from an instructor need to buy at least one more course from another instructor on the marketplace for Udemy to generate revenue. That’s the advantage of controlled platforms like Lynda.com. They have control over the inventory, all courses have a certain standard of quality and there are not dozens of courses about the same topic.

Other marketplaces like eBay had to deal with this problem and came up with intelligent filters that learn about your preferences and only show you relevant content at a glance from which you can dig deeper if you like. I feel Udemy either needs to implement quality guidelines and curation before courses go live or work on filters that trim down the noise and come up with the courses that are most relevant to a student or affiliate.

And then there is still the question whether Udemy will be able to break out of its core market and enter new verticals, another essential step in order to reach their goal of teaching 10 million students, let alone 100 million. I feel, the team needs to go back in the trenches and seed new verticals like they did in the early days of their marketplace, getting in touch with instructors outside of the tech / startup ecosystem.