Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing my thoughts on the key differentiators in this sector and the spectrum of opportunities that the Ed Tech sector brings compared to other sectors in the context of really understanding the value creation dynamics. All these views, be they good, bad, boring or controversial are, of course, my personal thoughts.
In my previous posts I talked about:
Now for some thoughts on the potential of addressing scale solutions vs. specialist sub-sector
4. Scale vs. Specialist
Few sectors are so expansive in their construct and vast in their user base. Every person is a user, be it informal or formal. Three and a half trillion dollars is expended every year from villages in Africa – to urban sprawls in Asia. From schools under trees to leafy Ivy League business schools, the inputs and outputs of the sector encompasses all of humanity. Sounds a bit grandiose, but it’s true.
So if you are looking to operate an Education Technology business you need to pick more than just a demographic or a sector.
There are few technologies in education that are able to encompass different parts of this vast arena. Some claim to, by providing content hosting/ aggregating platforms. A few hit the mark while others neither have the gamification required for early years nor the engagement required for more senior learners. A number are developing cognitive learning tools which remain in their infancy and are taking time to scale. I have also seen a number of immersive 3D learning environments which are fascinating – really engaging the learner and adopting new technologies. The sectors that these addressed were wide but are now narrowing, as the pace of technologies accelerate in some sectors to adapt ‘haptic’ (touch/ feedback) tools for refining motor skills, for example in dentistry and surgery.
Others try to adapt technologies, originally developed in the academic/K12 space, into the vocational space. That fails, as vocational learners are mobile, dispersed and have real world challenges to deal with.
As an operator in the assessment space, I am slightly biased in my view that core assessment platform products, which are content/curriculum agnostic, are by and far, the most scalable opportunity. All education, be it casual, formal, early, primary, secondary, post-secondary or vocational requires an element of assessment. This can be top-down or peer to peer, but in all cases it should enhance the learning experience.
In my next post, I will look at which territory you are starting from.
Picture by Finizio via Flickr