Worldwide record investments in ed-tech

Worldwide record investments in ed-tech

By Open Education Europa Editorial Team
Posted 2 Set 2015 | 10:05 GMT

The first semester of 2015 has registered a surge in ed-tech investments around the globe, which according to some reports might be over 2.51 billion dollars, compared to the record high 2.42 billion invested in learning technology companies in all of 2014. Five years ago, investments in this sector totalled about 600 million dollars.

These promising figures are included in a report released by Ambient Insight analysing investments in learning technology companies in 118 countries. The analysis does not include government grants, NGO grants, investments made by non-profit educational, for example, so the total amount of investments directly or indirectly related to education is likely much larger.

Chinese companies hold five of the top 10 spots on the list of the largest funding amounts obtained so far in 2015. Investment activity in China has been a fixture in the learning technology investment patterns for the last three years, as a rapidly rising middle class is creating a demand for better education. In response, Chinese startups are developing entirely new products, while universities are emulating online MOOC platforms developed in Europe and the United States.

Meanwhile, in Europe ed-tech investments have surged 95% during the first quarter of 2015, from 11.9 million last year to 23.2 million euros. Berlin is leading the list of European ed-tech hubs in terms of number of deals and money invested, followed by Dublin and London, according to Edukwest’s “EdTech Funding Report Europe Q1 2015”. The leading verticals are continuing education and higher education, followed by language learning.

Does this reflect in schools? 

Even though these numbers and trends are quite promising, investors believe they are small compared to the size of education as a market. "Given the contribution that education makes to overall society, GDP -- you name it -- we’re still well below what we should be seeing", says John Baker, founder and CEO of learning management system provider D2L, at Inside Higher ED.

These all-time records in educational technology companies are not being so far reflected in primary school classrooms. Dr Keith Devlin, a Stanford University mathematician, points out in a recent blog post that "to date, practically all that much-hyped ed-tech funding has had virtually no direct impact on what goes on in the K-12 math classroom. Overall, K-12 math teachers are not incorporating new technology in their teaching".

"There is a massive untapped potential for classroom ed-tech", he says, but investors "focus overwhelmingly on the organizational tools bought by the people in education that do have purchasing power: the learning management systems, data collection and analysis packages, and student performance dashboards, bought by system administrators".

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