There is absolutely no doubt that today the development of the EdTech sector is moving on at incredible rates. And of course, the global COVID-19 pandemic has become the main booster for it. In 2020, both educational institutions and students faced the situation when the digital format of learning turned out to be the only one that could allow them to continue the process of learning. That’s when the demand for eLearning software development services started to increase as well as the investments in this industry.
Just imagine in 2021, EdTech startups worldwide raised $21 billion in a while in 2020 the total amount raised was $16 billion. However, after spending record sums in 2021, investors reduced the number of dollars flowing into the EdTech sector.
Global funding to EdTech startups decreased in 2022 and returned to pre-pandemic levels. Around $11 billion went into the industry, which is a massive cash flow amidst ongoing demand for eLearning solutions and services.
But if there is such an amazing demand on this market and it may seem that investors are just sitting and waiting for a new project to put their money in, does it mean that the business journey of every new EdTech startup will be absolutely seamless? Are there any challenges of online learning space that you should be aware of before launching your project?
That’s exactly what we are going to discuss in this article. (Spoiler: Yes, there are some apparent problems with online learning segment now. But we are here to help you transform these challenges into opportunities).
Challenges of online learning for startups
The main task for a person considering a plan to launch an EdTech project is to find an answer to the question: “What are the challenges of online learning space that startups will have to deal with?” As soon as this answer is found, you will see what you can do with them and how you can benefit from them. Yes, that’s not a mistake. We sincerely believe that all the issues can become a good push for you to be more creative, innovative, and result-oriented with the right approach.
We’ve prepared a list of the issues in online learning industry that you can use as your guide for making your project fully ready for the current market conditions.
Challenge 1. High market competition
The competition in the market that in 2020 was valued at $89.49 billion is high. It is impossible to name the exact number of EdTech startups that are operating in this sector globally. However, for example, in India alone, this figure has hit 4,500. In the US, their total number is over 8,000. But is there any space for newcomers? Definitely yes.
Startups can take advantage of that situation. Here’s how.
On the one hand, we can say that the increased competition will significantly decrease your chances to succeed or push projects to fight severely for funding (and, as a result, attract fewer funds and cut development costs). But on the other hand, we should view this challenge as an incentive to offer something unique and innovative.
Namely, market competition can accelerate the development of the market itself. And of course, that’s a massive plus for all participants of the market, including startup owners who will be able to get high profits, professors, and learners who will directly benefit from a better product.
Challenge 2. Low usage and retention
Unfortunately, such things can happen, which can be explained by both market factors (high competition) and psychological issues. We should admit that EdTech is still a relatively young industry, and many learners and teachers are still not accustomed to using online platforms in their educational process.
Here’s when we can mention the challenges of online education itself:
- Problems with self-discipline (though it may seem funny this point is quite relevant to both students and professors);
- Tech issues (including issues with access to the internet or lack of possibilities to use an appropriate device for learning);
- Lack of control, lack real-time feedback and face-to-face communication;
- Difficulties in using the content of some particular type.
What can you do?
Though you can’t make people start loving elearning just at once, via your solution, you can provide them something that will at least draw their attention to this way of getting knowledge. Try to boost user engagement. It can be done thanks to:
- Improving user experience. Here we can advise you to follow the modern trends of UI/UX design: try to make the interface intuitively clear and pleasant to look at. Moreover, you can add advanced features that will attract users and make the learning process more efficient. For example, there can be some functionality enriched with AR/VR tools.
- Gamification. Regardless of their age, people like playing and winning. Rewards for fulfilled tasks, additional bonuses for studying extra lessons, leadership boards, and other similar elements will make users love your platform and come back to it.
- Social elements. People like feeling that they are not alone. That’s why some group projects, chats, Q&A sessions will help to make the process of learning more enjoyable.
- Personalization. All people are different. That’s why approaches in education should also differ. For example, while for some people it is easier to catch info via reading it, some others prefer watching educational videos. AI and ML-powered tools can help you analyze each user’s interest and offer them the content that will be more useful for them.
- Mobility. Today, the number of people who use mobile devices for learning is constantly growing. It means that to make your product more convenient for your audience to use, we recommend making your platforms mobile-friendly.
Read more about trends in EdTech rocking the market in 2022-2023.
Challenge 3. Reluctance to change
Comfort and the fear of accepting change are common among educational institutions. Historically, they prefer to use more standard learning methods, such as books and whiteboards.
Most teachers still consider laptops and smartphones distracting from learning and teaching. And those who embrace innovations and technology can have difficulty convincing parents to adopt a new eLearning solution or product.
Hence, one of the most critical challenges in EdTech industry for businesses is introducing novice things to the industry that is resistant to change. Decision-makers can have a wealth of concerns and need proof that technology has real value for learning.
How to encourage the adoption of EdTech products?
Teachers, students, parents, and educational institutions have different concerns regarding introducing technology. One of the most remarkable ways to overcome the reluctance to change in any group is to prove the solution can bring tangible benefits.
You need to prove your solution addresses the critical pain points of your customers and brings real value to each party. Support your claims with sufficient data and create strong cases of how EdTech technology helps improve each metric. Whether it is cost reduction, productivity boost, or improving engagement in a classroom, it is up to you to showcase exciting EdTech opportunities for customers.
Challenge 4. Lack of digital transformation strategy
The academic world is slower to adopt an IT modernization program than other domains. Unlike technology startups or digital-native businesses, educational institutions relied on conventional practices and siloed decision-making processes that deliver unsurprisingly positive results.
Digital transformation challenges in EdTech aren’t solely the result of technical limitations. They also encompass non-tech-related factors. Reluctance to change tried-and-true practices, academic ideology, skill gaps, and security risks lead to the slow adoption of digital transformation initiatives.
How to help educators change their minds and embrace a digital shift?
As mentioned, educational institutions need help stepping out of their comfort zone. How can they see and assess opportunities in EdTech if they are less agile and slower than your startup? Luckily, you can make an effort and explore the critical roadblocks hampering the digital transformation strategy from being executed.
One of the best ways to drive the adoption of digital technology is to maintain transparent communication with different user groups in the academic world. Keep feedback loops consistent with all stakeholders and decision-makers and stress the importance of the EdTech value proposition.
Make business decisions regarding the digital transformation contextual and informed by reaching out to the right individuals. Help them understand what they can achieve using new digital processes and tools.
Challenge 5. Issues with privacy and data protection
Poorly protected software can represent severe risks for virtual classrooms, especially when there are a lot of connected devices. And the main problem is that many startups (and those functioning in the sphere of edtech are not an exception) try to save their money on security. But you can break this trend!
What can you change?
The governments introduce different regulations to protect their citizens’ privacy. For example, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Therefore, we advise you to make your apps fully compliant with the legislation applied in the jurisdictions you will introduce them.
The highest level of software protection will improve user experience and become your competitive advantage, helping you stand out from the crowd of poorly protected apps.
Our developers have rich expertise in building fully secure GDPR-compliant products. You can read more about it using the link above.
Challenge 6. Much time needed for monetization
EdTech projects can gain popularity rather quickly. But the problem is that quite often, their target audience is not ready to pay for using their solutions. The truth is that both teachers and students will prefer a free platform when there is a choice.
How is it possible to deal with this issue?
You should be creative to find the ways that will be applicable in your case to get profits. For example, you can offer a free app or platform, but some additional learning materials can be paid for.
Or suppose you have some professional courses for experts that will help them get new professional knowledge and skills that will be of great use in their career (in other words, the knowledge and skills that people will be able to monetize). In that case, that’s the exact target audience that will be ready to pay for your solution.
All this means that you need to build a sustainable business model for your EdTech startup.
Great! We can help you with it. Share your ideas with us, and our seasoned developers will build a product that will rock the industry. Are you ready?
As well as any other industry, EdTech has its issues that you should bear in mind before starting your project. However, the EdTech market is experiencing one of the most active stages of its development right now, and it means that today may be just a very appropriate time for you to enter the game. In our blog, we’ve already shared the list of the most popular eLearning solutions. So you can use this article for inspiration. Or maybe you already have an idea of something unique?
In any case, at Geomotiv, we are always ready to support you and provide any assistance related to software development. We will do our best to turn any possible EdTech challenges and pains into your gains. To learn more about us and what we can do for your project, please fill in this online form, and our team will contact you very soon.
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