Educational technology is a fast growing market. A global report by EdTechXGlobal predicts that edtech spend will reach $252 billion by 2020. In a 2015 KPMG report, the industry experienced a “dramatic upward curve” in terms of venture capital investment, growing over 300% quarter over quarter. Across other sectors during the same period, venture capitalists have grown wary.
Edtech is also a fast-moving market. The solutions that are popular today may no longer be popular tomorrow. In the test preparation field, for example, testing standards vary by state and can change frequently.
So what can edtech companies do to stay relevant?
Jay Eckard and Joe Winterscheidt, former teachers and founders of USATestprep, an edtech company established in Georgia, U.S. in 1998, offer the following tips:
1. Focus on the customer
There’s no one size fits all approach to the edtech market, in the same way that schools customize lessons based on age or learning capacity. Edtech consumers include schools, teachers, students, and parents, and they will definitely want products crafted to meet their unique needs – according to curriculum, grade levels, and teaching style and approach, among other considerations.
For example, at USATestprep we developed products that are teacher-centric. Our approach is anchored on the belief that empowered teachers benefit students more in the long run. Periodic product assessments by teachers are also central to keeping products responsive to educators’ needs.
2. Create a network of subject matter experts
For teacherpreneurs that venture into the edtech space, an army of subject matter experts at your disposal is a goldmine. You can’t possibly do everything yourself. Meanwhile, the experts you need may live elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to leverage the power of a distributed team of instructional experts to develop content.
3. Communicate product value
Chromebooks, laptops, iPads, and other handheld devices are fast becoming a common tool in the classroom setting. But just because this is largely the case nowadays, there’s no guarantee that teachers will immediately see the value in your product.
Sure, today’s teachers are more tech-savvy than their counterparts from a decade or two ago, but you still need to illustrate how your product can prove useful in student learning, and why it’s an important addition to an existing arsenal of teaching tools.
4. Specialize, personalize, and be agile
At USATestprep, we serve a large chunk of the South’s test prep and curriculum resource market. Each practice review we create takes a substantial amount of time and effort.
As states frequently change standardized tests, teachers are under a lot of pressure. To help them keep up with all the changes, we constantly create and update tests, with a turnaround time of two weeks for a new practice test, which is remarkably quick in the edtech market.
5. Evolve with the market
The edtech market is huge, to the tune of an annual $5 trillion globally, according to TechCrunch. By 2020, IBIS Capital and EdTechXGlobal estimates edtech spending to reach $252 billion, a per-annum growth of 17%.
As the edtech market positions itself to achieve its full potential, game-based and personalized learning trends, along with the flipped classroom model, and augmented reality will shake up the traditional classroom model. No doubt, edtech companies that can agilely respond to state changes, as well as emerging trends, will score big wins.
This article has been edited.
Maricel Rivera is a research writer with a focus on small business, technology, and online marketing. Some of her work appear on sites such as Business.com, Business2Community, CustomerThink, TweakYourBiz, among others. She’s also the owner of RiveraWrites, a content development and marketing company. Connect with @rivera_writes on Twitter.