Our friend Edward Baker of Edmix put together an EdTech Startup Pavillion for Bett Show in London again this year.
I interviewed Ed back in December prior to the Bett and if you’re interested to learn more about what he and Edmix do, I invite you to read the interview.
At the EdTech Startup Pavillion I got a glimpse what UK-based education startups are building. I mostly spoke with founders who develop for teachers and schools which is not surprising as this is the biggest visitor group BETT attracts each year. I also saw quite some startups in the video vertical, ranging from the player/platform itself, over a YouTube-esque solution for teachers with additional analytics and also video in a more professional context to train employees.
Tutoring is also a big and booming market in the UK which we covered more in detail through our first EDUKWEST Live event. If you could not attend the event, here is the recap.
However, I didn’t see much innovation in the higher education space neither really new and innovative solutions for lifelong learners. I recorded a few pitches on the show floor for you, but keep in mind that there was a large crowd so the noise level is slightly high.
Ed is also the initiator of the EdTech Innovator Award at BETT for which he has kindly asked me to speak about the things that will become important in education in 2014 and beyond.
As a regular reader of EDUKWEST you will not be surprised that I see the biggest overarching trend in data as it affects all of the different verticals in the education market, may it be how we think about the future of degrees and merging our formal and informal learning experiences in the career space, how schools are able now to analyze individual student’s learning, personalized and later on adaptive learning, badges and so on.
I think it is also fascinating to follow what is happening in the mobile space. 2013 was the first year smartphones out-shipped the so-called feature phones, and in 2014 half of all PCs shipped will be tablet devices. I don’t think that you need a crystal ball to imagine how an important number of learners/users want to learn.
Within mobile verticals like personalization, localization and gamification will be of increased importance. As I always say having a mobile strategy is an essential part not to fall behind the curve.
2013 was also an interesting year for video, both in a flipped classroom setting and also in the lifelong learning vertical. With even faster internet connection in many countries we might even the return of the live video lesson in 2014.
In the startup competition we saw six startups pitch the jury to win a package worth £10.000.
I found it challenging for the jury to make a fair decision as the startups were at very different points in their lifecycles, ranging from a few months only to a solid six or seven years. But this award was presented not as a pitch competition only but an award to measure the impact a startup has made on the industry.
In order of their pitches we saw the following companies
Ellumia: a mobile learning app for adult learners with a lot of what’s hip at the moment including buzzwords and -phrases like personalised, social, bite-sized and learn what you want when you want. Ellumia was awarded second runner-up.
StepUp.io: helps you to learn at your own pace and allows you to cut your favourite videos into little snippets that you can then reply until you have mastered the topic or skill. Personally, I find the concept rather appealing but also see a series of issues that are everything but easy to master. We are going to take a closer look at StepUp.io on EDUKWEST Europe this week.
busuu: originally a platform and online community to learn foreign languages, busuu now heavily grows in the mobile space thanks to their learning apps. The startup operates with a freemium-model. busuu as the most experienced and successful startup in the competition was the unsurprising winner. I think the judges made the right decision, but really there was no other choice as busuu was simply too far ahead of the other competitors.
Jumpido: is one of the first Bulgarian edtech startups I’ve heard about. The startup takes on gamification for primary schools. The approach of developing interactive games is nice and that combined with using Microsoft’s Kinect in an educational setting, another hot trend, helped them score the second place. At EDUKWEST we already featured the trend with this OP-ED piece in June 2012 very early on.
Skillpixels: is representative of the growing number of Finnish startups. Team team have built a fun and educational math game. Kids teach math to a virtual pet. Keywords here are (again) gamification and mobile learning
AltoGame: another competitor from Finland develops targets the professional market. AltoGame lets companies train and coach employees in a virtual environment. The theory behind the startup’s approach is balance well-being of employees with effective training which seems to be easier to achieve when taking place in a virtual scenario than in real-life. Since Online Educa back in December 2013 I keep hearing more about virtual training either in Second Life or other virtual environments. We may have another trend for 2014.