Ed Tech Market Briefing: 5 Things We Learned This Week

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Ed Tech, Learning Technology, elearning: whatever you want to call it, there’s lots to track this ever-changing space. If you’re in the market, it’s worth staying on top of it with a regular briefing. Here’s the top 5 things that caught our eye in this week’s briefings.

1. Jeff Bezos suddenly likes Ed Tech

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You already know that the billionaire Amazon founder likes space. So much so, he’s offered to send Donald Trump there. But this week he made another bold step into the future by leading a $40 million funding round in Ed Tech start up EverFi. He’s joined in the funding by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and a host of prominent VC firms.

So what’s EverFi? A US firm focused on K-12 and Higher Ed and Adult Ed markets, with online learning programmes focused on “critical life skills” – managing money, health and wellness, career goals and planning to name a few. Sounds like good cargo on any spaceship.

As one commenter in our community put it, it’s hard to see on the surface what’s so special about it – UK observers will see echoes of City & Guilds and learndirect in here. Jeff and Eric are funding them though, so that’s special enough to get press and analyst attention. When they take a stake in Ed Tech start-ups, other funders will try to catch them all. Which leads us to…

2. Pokemon Go is just like Learning Tech! Sort of

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So the world got knocked off its axis briefly with the launch of Pokemon Go. Some learning players took a break from 56 hours of relentless gameplay to muse on what it had in common with learning design, and what learning designers can take from it:

It’s social, sticky, and very easy to use, points out Seth Dickens at Kineo. If only that were true of all learning experiences. Not to designers: I don’t see any learning objectives or pages of help text in PokemonGo..

Donald Clark, never afraid to play a new AR game or put on the latest VR headset posted a considered piece on how Augmented Reality like Pokemon Go can become a new medium for learning – bringing in deliberate practice, problem solving, and social learning on a large scale. Why couldn’t it go further with tutor-led experiences? Watch this virtual/real space.

Pokemon Go has had download numbers that the Ed Tech market couldn’t dream of, right?, That’s what we thought, until…

3. The Market for Ed Tech Apps is bigger than Pokemon Go

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Well, that may not be entirely true. But we like in a post-factual world and I have to work hard to keep your attention. What is true, according to this blog post, is that Ed Tech app downloads grew by 13% in Q1 2016. The authors draw our attention to the TinyCards app from language app leaders Duolingo. It’s had 100 million downloads worldwide, or 10 times what Pokemon Go has (at time of writing, it’s probably caught up by the time you read this).

TinyCards isn’t a new idea or a complex one – but it’s a great Ed Tech app that does something simple very well. If you were ever in doubt the the app market is right for Ed Tech, this article might restore your faith.

4. Latest Learning Tech Trend? Lagging Behind

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TinyCards and Pokemon Gos are the exception – and if you’re in Learning Technology you might have more chance stumbling on a Snorlox* than breakthrough apps like those. So says Fosway Group in their latest research. Fosway usually bring eye-opening insights to the table, but this one is more eye watering: 55% of Learning Technology Providers report they rarely, occasionally or never innovate. And those are just the ones fessing up – like any survey on bad habits, you can probably add 20% who were too ashamed to admit it.

Fosway advise buyers to be proactive with vendors and check their innovation roadmaps. Cue your opportunity to ask how you can make your next learning programme more viral than Pokemon Go. Have some fun with your vendors!

*Don’t ever say you can’t learn from a PokemonGo Briefing.

5. Design Thinking Makes the Difference in Learning says Harvard Business Review

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It’s not often that HBR carries an article on learning design, so Josh Bersin’s piece this week rose up the rankings in our briefing pretty quickly. Josh is among many who call for a total rethink of onboarding programmes, calling out all that’s wrong with traditional information cramming and indoctrination. He shares an example of a Telco that used design thinking to embed learning more effectively over a longer period, using – that’s right – an app, among other methods. Good case study for anyone making the case for better onboarding.

One stat from the article to bring into battle if you’re in L&D: From Deloitte’s research with Glassdoor, learning and career opportunities are the biggest drivers of employees’ willingness to recommend their company as a great place to work for people under age 40.

That, and allowing Pokemon Go to be played on premises, of course.

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