As any teacher can tell you, engaging students and keeping them engaged is an on-going struggle. Incorporating and leveraging technology into the classroom is increasingly being explored as an effective way of doing this, with the edtech sector reportedly worth US $429m in 2012.
According to the American National Venture Capital Association, expansion really got underway in 2009, when investment in the industry by venture capitalists boomed by US $150m, despite a deepening global recession. Online learning and course providers like Coursera and Udacity have soared in popularity, whilst the market is crowding with digital in-classroom and student organisation resources, such as Courseload, which provides digital textbooks, and Coursekit, a challenger to Blackboard.
But, whilst start-ups with great ideas are proliferating at an ever faster rate, the biggest problem they face is scalability. In an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jose Ferreira, Founder of the interactive learning company Knewton, suggested that big educational institutions want complete solutions that can be implemented across the board, rather than smaller-scope applications with the potential to grow.
“Education start-ups have to think big,” he said. “I don’t think they can try to produce something that’s incremental, which is a little bit antithetical to the way venture capitalists think.“