Back in his student days, Ruslan Tymofieiev (Ruslan Tymofeev), an IT investor and the founder of venture capital fund Adventures Lab actively used mobile educational applications. One of them helped him practice English in a playful way, the other one was good for oral counting, the third one trained logic. Each of them, as well as YouTube tutorial videos, is an EdTech product, that is, a digital tool that helps users learn and develop useful skills. According to the expert, this area is very promising in terms of investments.
The world EdTech market is actively growing, and the coronavirus pandemic has become a kind of stimulus for this development. More and more people who had to abandon their usual pastime due to the quarantine focus on self-education, and online learning platforms are becoming more popular.
So far, Ukraine is only at square one in terms of digital education development. However, Tymofieiev notes that several high-profile EdTech startups, such as Grammarly and Preply, have already appeared on the Ukrainian market. Nevertheless, investors from Ukraine are not yet willing to invest in this area.
Rigidity and bureaucracy of school education
According to McKinsey’s analytical studies, Generation Z is passionate about self-development but has a pragmatic approach to learning. The school curriculum is aimed at memorizing large amounts of information, while the development of critical thinking is paid little attention. According to one friend of the Adventures Lab founder, today’s school education is a terrible mixture of serfdom and bureaucracy. That is, creativity, curiosity, and freethinking are not welcome. And modern adolescents are no longer willing to put up with it.
Ruslan Tymofieiev (Ruslan Tymofeev) mentions Ukrainian schoolchildren who are actively studying IT disciplines and languages as an example. They understand that this will help them become successful in the modern multicultural society. But not every school teaches English properly, and in this case, EdTech tools turn out to be very useful. As confirmation, the investor cites data of the analytical company HolonIQ. Its TOP-100 Eastern European EdTech-startups 2020 rating includes 11 projects from Ukraine, and 4 of them help learn English.
What areas to invest in?
The rapidly growing popularity of EdTech is getting more and more interesting for investors. According to HolonIQ analysts, in three years, the total capitalization of the world EdTech market will reach 7.3 trillion dollars. Tymofieiev believes that the following four areas will be the most promising in terms of investments:
- Gamification of learning. Memorizing information in a playful way is much more attractive for teenagers than a naked outline of facts.
Information security. Its task is to protect the EdTech service users from leaking their data.
- VR and AR. Virtual and augmented reality make the learning process more exciting with the ability to create volumetric models of the ancient settlements, give virtual excursions, etc.
- Individualization of training. Thanks to the platforms created with the help of artificial intelligence, it is possible to better know the students’ abilities, preferences, the level of knowledge in a particular area and, using the data obtained, to develop a personal educational program that will make the learning process as efficient as possible.
According to Ruslan Tymofieiev (Ruslan Tymofeev), the principle of “one profession for the whole life” is no longer effective. And today the concept of three L—Life-Long Learning—is becoming more and more popular. That is why the businessman considers EdTech to be a promising area for investing.