Over the last year, COVID-19 presented unforeseen challenges for practically every type of business and organization—including schools, colleges, and universities. For educational institutions, the pandemic was an unapologetic agent of acceleration, shifting one billion learners from in-person to online learning within two months.
The rapid transition to online learning exposed many schools’ lack of readiness for the new online learning environment. It also widened the learning equity gap for students, with fewer than 40% of students from low-income families having access to the tools required for remote learning.
For those who do have online access, today’s students expect everything from engaging and collaborative digital learning experiences to skills-based training for their roles in the future workforce. Expectations are also high for 24×7 multi-channel tech support across all learning devices, applications, and platforms.
In these remarkable times, education technology companies have an important role to play in supporting academic institutions and students. Indeed, this is already happening, as the EdTech (Educational Technology) market is nearly tripling, with total global expenditures expected to reach $404 billion by 2025. However, the success of these EdTech companies depends on their performance in a number of areas, including:
Content and products: How quickly can they generate new content and react to learner needs with new products to additional markets for broader adoption?
Personalization: How effectively can they leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a personalized experience to all types of learners?
Trust and security: How trusted and secure are their services when educational organizations are suffering the highest number of data breaches since 2005?
Here are a few examples of how EdTech companies are successfully using AI and analytics to capture this opportunity and transform their businesses:
Build better products: iSchoolConnect is an online platform that lets students explore schools, courses, and countries where they might study, and makes higher education admissions accessible to students around the globe. The company leverages AI services to help educational institutions optimize their academic operations by accelerating admission processing by greater than 90%, while saving significant costs.
Launch in new markets faster: Classroom creativity tools provider Book Creator uses AI APIs to enhance accessibility and improve the learner experience. “The broad suite of intelligent APIs enables us to deliver richer experiences, faster and more easily, without having to be experts in machine learning, drawing recognition, map embeds, or other areas,” says VP of engineering Thom Leggett.
Scale businesses securely: Using DevOps and CDN [content delivery network] services, Chrome browser recording extension creator Screencastify was able to support eight times growth in users overnight amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining consistent total cost of ownership. These technologies helped the company rapidly scale operations in response to the overnight increase in demand from consumers and assure student data privacy and security on a budget. “We know this is just the beginning, as more educators rely on technology to deliver richer, more interactive curricula to students,” says CEO James Francis.
Provide personalized learning and support: Smart analytics and AI can provide personalized support and recommendations for students, forecast demand, and predict shifts in learners’ preferences. Online learning platform Mindvalley uses cloud-based tools to understand and make decisions based on user activity and leverage machine learning to predict behavior.
Google Cloud is partnering with many of these leading EdTech companies, as well as industry-leading consortiums like Ed-Fi and Unizin, to standardize educational common data models and best practices for more agile and cost-effective integration of EdTech into existing environments.
The education landscape is changing rapidly, and EdTech has a major role to play as institutions adapt to the massive shift in learners’ preferences and expectations. We’re committed to empowering EdTech companies with the tools and services they need to help expand learning for everyone, anywhere.