Having a background in language coaching, I tend to keep a close eye on the latest global trends in language learning. After a period of little innovation in the space, there is definitely a new wave of language learning startups hitting the market.
Live video lessons, the hot trend from seven years ago that proved to be little more than a flash in the pan, certainly had a chilling effect for edtech entrepreneurs and investors in the language learning space.
According to a report from McGraw-Hill Education, the use of mobile devices for studying was on the rise in 2013 and 2014. 81% of the 1,700 college students surveyed used mobile devices like smartphones and tablets making them the second popular choice behind laptops.
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%.
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.
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?