What are the Top 20 EdTech Opportunities?

By Hannah Aronoff

In a post to its blog, LearnLaunch has released research recognizing the Top 20 education technology opportunities for investment and to improve student outcomes.. LearnLaunch is Boston’s leading startup incubator of edtech companies devoted to pedagogical improvement.

LearnLaunch partner, Jean Hammond, and MIT Sloan graduate and co-founder of Smile and Learn, Blanca Rodriguez, conducted the study, focusing on why education has often been gradual to adapt to technological innovations. The summation of their research led Hammond and Rodriguez to illuminate both the pressing concerns of educators and the opportunities for entrepreneurs, which enabled them to identify the crucial overlap of the two.

In explaining the strategy of their conclusions, Jean Hammond remarked, “We applied a framework of overlaying market vulnerabilities in the education market with specific areas of technology disruption.” The 20 companies attributed in this list represent the most promising areas for edtech ventures such as data analytics, gamification, and machine learning

Hammond and Rodriguez identified, to their dismay, the reality that there is a mounting breach between schools that can adopt new technologies and those that cannot. Even with this disparity in mind, the study noted that the academic realm as a whole has been lagging behind other industries in their sluggish embrace of emerging technologies.

However, a trend toward investing in startups revolving around disruptive technologies has arisen over the past decade—the height of which was seen in the last quarter 2015. One major roadblock to new disruptive startups flourishing is the hesitance of investors funding early-stage companies.

One result of this reluctance to embrace innovation is stagnant returns in student performance—despite the hefty increase institutions have invested in their students. The integration of disruptive technologies is exactly what the educational sector needs to begin to thrive. In analyzing the discrete market forces within the industry, Hammond and Rodriquez identified exactly what types of innovation will be most conducive to success within the current state of education. They divided the most influential forces affecting the market into two categories: market vulnerabilities and tech and science disruptions. The former encapsulates government regulations, transition success, and special populations and narrow markets, while the latter represents virtual reality and other emerging user experiences and interfaces, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and brain science.

In order to successfully navigate and tackle these forces, Hammond and Rodriquez applied a framework that provided actionable data. At the intersection of the market vulnerabilities and tech and science disruptions is where Hammond and Rodriquez believe immense opportunity lies. These are the 20 opportunities identified within their analysis: peer2peer learning, neuroscience, virtual training, students-creators, rethinking schools, mobile, flipped classroom, blended learning, machine learning, open educational resourced, project-based learning, automated speech recognition, gamification, adaptive learning, data analytics, competency-based learning, machine learning, non-cognitive or affective learning, and global education.

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