Enabling EdTech to innovate

Enabling EdTech to innovate | General | Emeritus

EdTech is one of the few industries that continues to thrive through the pandemic. Keen observers will also notice the tremendous transformation taking place in the sector in recent times, and is poised to cement its position as a viable alternative to traditional education.

In my 25 years in the professional education industry, I have seen it evolve in two distinct ways. The first being that while earlier higher education was mainly a public sector undertaking, today, thanks to the internet, the online education sector is experiencing exponential growth fueled by collaborations between universities, private enterprises and venture capital investments. The global education technology expenditure is projected to be worth more than USD 300 billion by 2025.    

The second change I’ve noticed is on the student-side of things. No longer is education viewed as just a purely ‘classroom activity’, i.e., one which requires going to defined spaces and attendance at fixed schedules to acquire quality education. Instead, there is an increased acceptance and even preference for online education which has removed much of the constraints and inconveniences of traditional methods of delivery. In short, technology has made quality education more accessible. Cohorts of students have also become more diverse as geographic constraints no longer exist. Accordingly, we have seen more universities showing greater urgency to adopt the digital approach, especially with the impetus that COVID-19 has provided.

Subscribing to Eruditus’ vision 

My journey at the group began all of five years ago, when the Eruditus group was looking for a Director for their Singapore operations. After a number of conversations with Ashwin Damera, Co-Founder & CEO, I was offered the role – it was an easy choice for me in the end, and it was guided by three factors: the first being my enthusiasm to explore the new online education domain. Secondly, the chance to partner with world class institutions like MIT, Columbia Business School and the Tuck Executive Education. Finally, I was encouraged by the leadership’s vision and ambitions, as well as the positive and collaborative culture they inculcated.

The future of EdTech

I foresee online education becoming more mainstream in a few short years, and its current format will become ‘traditional’ and the norm. As such, the present situation, as dictated by the pandemic will be a paradigm shift and game-changer of sorts for universities who are now only beginning to adopt online education. That aside, I think the industry will be even more ‘crowded’ in the future, and EdTech players will therefore have to innovate at a faster pace to differentiate themselves from the competition. What’s more, I see China and India as huge and exciting growth areas for the sector. Chinese EdTech companies, in particular, have invested enormous resources into artificial intelligence research and development to improve learning outcomes.The future also presents us with the opportunity to delve into areas such as, how learning can be made more on-demand, real-time, less device-dependent, and how we can integrate it more seamlessly into our daily living. Also, how we can apply IoT and machine-human interaction into education.

Fulfilling workdays

A good day at work for me is one where I achieve a successful balance between addressing urgent matters at hand and making significant progress in critical long-term plans. Also, I believe that a great day is typically characterized by being satisfied with what I have accomplished that day, and at the same time not too exhausted to miss catching up with colleagues casually, and still having enough energy at the end of the day for family and friends.  

If anything, the pandemic has underlined the importance of people and families to us. At this time, we’d like to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our employees and their families during this difficult period, and pause to remember those family members of colleagues who are no longer with us because of COVID-19. We’d also like to reassure our employees recovering from COVID-19 of our continued understanding and support.

Enabling innovation

As the company’s Global Data Protection Officer, my role in compliance is to support the company to move forward with innovations that incorporate privacy protection. Regulatory laws will always be playing catch-up with innovations. To this end, we carefully study how such gaps can be addressed by working with experts in this highly evolving field. We are also developing appropriate technology to automate compliance across all the different jurisdictions and laws that we operate in 24/7. This will enable us to be more effective and efficient in supporting our organization goal of scaling 10X. 

Vision 2030

In terms of the business, I see us offering solutions like coding, data science, finance, business plan and entrepreneurship courses at the K12 level. That said, we shouldn’t only restrict ourselves to teaching, but also be involved in setting up incubation labs for new initiatives, and bringing in our contacts and alumni network to enable go-to-market for some of these initiatives. 

Moving on to research & development, I would like to see us make further investments in technology, this will enable us to teach better and understand our students’ learning behavior better. 

Finally, I would like to see our group leveraging our eco-system of education partners, coaches, mentors, investors and graduates in positions of influence to bring about change in parts of the world that are left behind, owing to poor infrastructure, inaccessibility to investments and quality education. Thus, making a real-world impact on the world.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn Pulse

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