The past 18 months has redefined what we perceived as normal - particularly in the education sector where children have struggled to cope with their course curriculums.
Last April, a World Economic Forum report suggested 1.2 billion children, globally, had to attend virtual classrooms due to the pandemic. Whilst the UK saw its students move to an online learning system, reports of the loss of learning, particularly by children studying in the public school system, raised concerns.
In January 2021, the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) published a report highlighting the problem. It said that:
“Year two students had significantly lower achievement in both reading and maths in autumn 2020 when compared to the performance seen in year 2 in the autumn term of 2017.”
In another report, the NFER stated how students from poorer backgrounds struggled more than their economically well-off counterparts. The report noted the average learning loss for poorer students was 46% greater than a year earlier.
It is not just students who faced challenges
It is not just students who faced challenges. The pandemic also posed several problems for teachers. According to commentary by the London School of Economics, teachers have also been overwhelmed by having to provide remote learning opportunities to their students. Many have had to understand new digital tools in a matter of days, and rethink their traditional teaching methods.
This is where EdTech enters the fray.
Global EdTech companies train their teachers how to teach online. While most lectures are pre-recorded and use several simulations to facilitate learning and help students, I have concluded that a one-to-one personalised learning environment - be it online or offline - works best.
The data backs this up. Whilst reports from across the world, from India to the United States, spoke of learning losses during the pandemic, a study by Scientific American noted how the city of Chicago saw an improved learning pattern. The city’s education department focused on a 1:2 high school tutoring programme. This enabled students to learn one to two years ahead in subjects such as mathematics, compared to the normal learning experience across an academic year in the classroom.
When an EdTech company uses a platform facilitating one-to-one learning, each student gets individual attention. The learning platform AI adjusts itself to how a child grasps a concept and creates a learning chart (using the same curriculum) to enable the child to grasp various concepts.
EdTech platforms will not replace schools, nor will they be remedial programmes enabling students to perform better
However, in my experience, EdTech platforms will not replace schools, nor will they be remedial programmes enabling students to perform better. Instead, we need to focus on providing an after-school learning platform that helps a child learn at his/her own pace and master a concept, rather than focusing on the completion of a syllabus. This mastery will enable children to become independent, and invincible problem solvers of tomorrow.
EdTech players can also work with schools; training teachers when it comes to online teaching. Teachers employed by EdTech market participants can work with students in these schools to ensure smaller classrooms, thereby encouraging personalised tutoring.
The growth of EdTech companies has already disrupted the industry. Parents are comfortable with letting their children use online learning platforms. Whilst STEM education has always been associated with offline training, the scale and rapid activity of the emerging EdTech industry shows that in terms of growth – the only way is up.
Across the broader EdTech market, as new players enter, the winners will be those who focus on outcomes and personalization and who remember that - above all - learning should be fun.
Manan Khurma is the CEO of Cuemath, an after-school, ‘one-on-one live class’ platform for maths and coding skills.