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How edtech is transforming the classroom

DESIGN: QUARTZ/ALICIA GEARTY, PHOTOS: UNSPLASH/AKSHAY Chauhan and Mikael Kristenson
By Dasia Moore
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Technology impacts every facet of contemporary life, but the education sector lags in adopting tools that could revolutionize learning. Just 3% of global education expenditure goes towards technology. Filling the gap are education technology startups and their venture capital funders. From homework management apps to online curricula and worker upskilling platforms, edtech is trying to transform the classroom for learners at every stage of education.

The most valuable edtech startups have already changed the way people learn. HolonIQ, an education investment research platform, identifies 14 edtech unicorns—startups valued at $1 billion or more. The most valuable of the bunch are ByJu’s, an Indian tutoring app; VIPKid, a Chinese site for teaching and learning English; Yuanfando, a Chinese tutoring site; Coursera, a US MOOC platform; Zhangmen, a Chinese tutoring site; and Duolingo, a US language-learning app.

It is no surprise that China and India lead the world in edtech, with 70% of VC investment. With two of the world’s largest primary and secondary school systems—and rapidly growing economies— both countries are seeing a sharp rise in demand for tutoring. L.E.K Consulting estimates China’s private tutoring industry alone brings in annual revenue of 1.6 trillion yuan ($238 billion).

Edtech is also disrupting higher education. The success of massive open online course (MOOC) platforms like Coursera demonstrates that adult learners are seeking non-traditional learning programs. But if the early years of edtech were marked by a focus on students in classrooms—virtual or not—the next phase of the industry will focus on workers and other part-time learners. Retraining and upskilling platforms are picking up steam around the world as employers and employees alike search for flexible, low-cost options for acquiring new, up-to-date skills.

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