School closures and shelter-at-home orders across the nation have created a unique challenge for teachers, students and parents, as they try to keep education rolling. While the process has had its setbacks, Education Technology (EdTech) applications such as Google Classroom, Brainly, and Zovio have emerged as invaluable resources for remote learning. In some cases, EdTech applications are doing so well during the crisis that some industry insiders are speculating they could have a presence in education long after the pandemic is over.
So what does this mean for the future of EdTech?
The Uneasy Switch
Reports have indicated that many students have been slow to adopt online classes in the wake of nationwide stay-at-home orders. Earlier this month, NPR reported that 41% of teenagers, including 47% of public school students, had still never attended an online class, per a Common Sense Media survey.
Despite these troubling figures, usage numbers have continued to grow in education apps. The most successful appears to be Google Classroom, which recently became the most popular education app on both Android and iOS platforms, according to Techworm. Reportedly, that app had not even been in the top 100 education apps until this March.
Meanwhile, Polish-based platform Brainly has seen a 200% usage increase through the month of March, says CNBC. According to Brainly founder Michal Borkowski, this increase isn’t just made up of students. “What we see is so many parents are struggling with homeschooling, they are coming to Brainly to check if the answer they gave is correct,” he said, per Sifted.eu.
A Bright Future for EdTech?
These upticks in usage have prompted a swell in economic confidence in education technologies. ELearning Inside reports that EdTech startup Preply recently closed a significant funding round, while EdTech firms Zovio and Teach Away have both increased hiring.
With the economic future of education technology looking particularly bright in these uncertain times, could this be the first step to replacing in-person education? Edtech insiders aren’t willing to go that far just yet. “It is important to look at opportunities from this offline to online challenge, but it is too early to say how we adjust,” Borkowski said. “In the near term, I think students are going to super-appreciate school. They will miss the social life you build there.”