The Australian EdTech sector has gained traction, and investors are becoming more and more interested. In 2017, the second-largest and fastest-growing start-up profile was EdTech. The sector was estimated at A$250 billion in 2017, and the numbers have spiked since then.
What has generated the change in Australia is the need for adaptive and flexible learning. This motive, fuelled by the fast development of the digital industry, seems to be more than enough for Australian start-ups to dedicate their time and resources to taking the education sector up a notch.
How Do Australian Start-Ups Manage to Set the Bar So High?
The Australian education sector is one of the most technologically advanced. How did this small nation manage to achieve what bigger countries have consistently failed at?
We are used to classrooms following the same outdated and aged protocols, curricula, and paradigms they did a century ago. This is a far cry from helping students and parents achieve the high learning and educational goals they aspire to at the beginning of their journey.
The Australian education sector had to disrupt the cookie-cutter teaching model that has haunted the nation for generations to become a world leader and trendsetter. Fortunately, for both students and their parents, the Australian start-up climate has reacted accordingly. The EdTech industry is booming, with start-ups competing at unprecedented rates to offer students the best study materials, methods, protocols, and strategies.
Until recently, the Australian education climate was not unlike the global climate. Now, according to a Deloitte census, the EdTech market here is vibrant, ambitious, and a global industry leader. The census indicated that even higher education institutions, including universities, aim to introduce digital protocols to adapt the curricula, improving effectiveness for students.
Australian EdTech Start-Ups Data and Figures
With more than 350 start-ups in the sector, Frost & Sullivan found the market is expected to grow to A$1.7 billion by 2022. The high demand for quality education and tech innovation are the propellers in this equation. Low acquisition costs in the sector also contribute to the sheer number of start-ups. Regionally speaking, New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland have the largest share of EdTech start-ups in the country, according to Statista.
As reported by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, these new establishments are distributed across all education levels: 31.9% of the EdTech organizations target secondary school courses, while primary school and university EdTech players account for approximately 25% each. Language learning start-ups account for almost 5% of the sector. The amounts invested by these organizations to improve their services are generous.
The US Fail their Students
US teachers are well aware of the inefficiencies of the system. The one-size-fits-all mindset is a huge drawback of the country’s education system.
While educators and teachers want to change how the system functions overall, the rules and regulations enforced by local and federal governments restrict the education process tremendously.
Students are suffering under a dated US education system which lacks proper methods and teaching techniques. Competency is burdened by paperwork, and technology is given a backseat in the education process.
Mark Rohald, the CEO at Cluey Learning, an Australian EdTech start-up that recently attracted $20 million in Series A funding, says that teaching and learning is optimized by embracing data and learning analytics. When you combine this with an individualized learning program, a personal tutor who is a guide and mentor, and content aligned to the syllabus, it’s incredible to see how engaged students are and how much their learning improves. This start-up has changed the way students all over Australia learn. But the US is long behind the lessons preached by Australian investors.
- Less than 40% of US high school students are prepared for college and career exams.
- The skill gap in the US is one of the highest in the world. Almost 7 million people lack career-ready studies, in spite of the fact that over 6 million job openings are currently available nation-wide.
- In the past several years, students in the fourth and eighth grade consistently score low on their reading and maths tests.
Technology and digitalization are the answer to the problems inherent in the US education system. For instance, online tutoring relies heavily on the latest Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, ongoing student and tutor feedback, and plenty of hard work to ensure the education capitalizes on each student’s individual potential.
Empowering Students with AI and ML
Using technology in the education process should be standard, not only for companies in the education technology field. From kindergarten through to high education, institutions must adopt a higher integration of AI and ML technologies.
Students today have varying educational needs and find themselves at different points on their educational journey. Schools need to implement similar technologies when designing their syllabus. When machine learning is used in the educational process, it is able to identify patterns in the data collected. Teachers can receive high volumes of data which, when processed correctly, offers insights into each student’s learning needs and gaps. This insight ultimately empowers young people to develop their knowledge base, according to their passions and needs.
Teachers can also evaluate each student’s individual progress, a thing that would have been impossible otherwise. Currently, the only way to evaluate a learner’s progress is by weighing in on student reactions in the classroom – how they respond to assignments they receive, and how timely they are when turning in work. Physically, this has become near impossible in the classroom today. But AI and ML have the capacity to change this aspect of the education process.
The Australian EdTech sector is here to give the rest of the world some valuable lessons. Through determination and significant investments, the education system here has become a world leader.
Educational institutions in the US should follow the example and adopt technologies like AI and ML in the classroom. But this, of course, calls for immense investment and effort. Partnering with start-ups and leaders in EdTech could be one way to bridge the gap and start to deliver a highly personalised, effective education system.