Closer Collaboration

Building an edtech bridge between Europe and the US.

GUEST COLUMN | by Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet

CREDIT EdTech EuropeThe education and training industries worldwide account for spending of more than $4 trillion, with these costs representing a staggering 84 percent increase since 2000. However, despite rising expenditures, there is a poorly perceived link between spending and related educational performance, as demonstrated by the stagnant reading and math scores in countries like the US.

With 85% of every dollar spent on the costs of physical institutions and teaching staff, there is an evident opportunity for education technology practices to transform the way in which the education industry has traditionally been resourced, taught and consumed.

To help foster this ecosystem, we believe that the opportunities and investment trends need to be more clearly articulated to a wider audience. 

The opportunity is clear. By reducing the price tag associated with the traditional delivery of education, while simultaneously improving and democratising standards, the EdTech industry has an enormous opportunity to capitalise on inherent inefficiencies. The media industry was disrupted through digitisation — from the profusion of new content, audience fragmentation and data centricity to the convergence between content and platform players. These same transformative factors will impact education in identical ways; inevitably leading to massive growth. After all, both industries are all about delivering compelling content and engaging audiences. The growth potential for digital education is therefore significant; especially when considering that it currently represents only 2 percent of the total education market, in comparison to the 30-40 percent share of digital in media.

This possibility is reflected in the predicted 17 percent e-Learning growth rate each year from now until 2017. But just as we want our own educational establishments to foster and encourage potential in students, we as an industry need to actively cooperate to create a fertile ecosystem for the development of EdTech innovation and talent. This collaboration was the central idea behind the creation of the EdTech Europe event three years ago, and one that we have extended this year to encompass our partnership with SXSWedu. Our relationship with the dynamic SXSWedu community bridges the gap between the US and European EdTech markets and champions the dissemination of talent and consolidation of investment in the growing sector.

Indeed, as the two largest markets for education globally, we see closer European-US collaboration as being fundamental to the continued proliferation of a healthy EdTech industry. Some of the key trends set to impact the investment landscape over the coming years are ones that can be applied on both sides of the Atlantic, if not globally.

As demonstrated through a 2014 Pearson study, an international comparison of global education systems puts the United States as 14 out of 20, with 7 European countries, such as Finland, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Poland, ranking higher than their American counterpart. Despite this European achievement, the United States excels with their unified common core standards, whereas the European education system is fundamentally fragmented with over 20 curriculums. Moreover, the US also leads the way with 60% of global e-Learning venture investments, which is an additional way that the European EdTech marketplace can learn from its transatlantic neighbour.

To help foster this ecosystem, we believe that the opportunities and investment trends need to be more clearly articulated to a wider audience. Established professional learning and education players, unconventional innovators and institutional investors need to share ideas and work together, acting as a catalyst for the consolidation and investment required in the sector. Only then will see the true potential of the EdTech industry start to emerge, and we will begin to witness the radical transformation of the digitisation process on education as we know it.

Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet is Co-Founder of EdTech Europe and an SXSW LAUNCHedu advisory board member. He previously wrote about The Digitalisation of Education for EdTech Digest.

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