Vivek Sander is the CEO of quimthOnline math learning platform. Sunder leads Cuemath’s overall business and global expansion.
The pandemic surprised everyone in early 2020, prompting businesses and consumers to embrace digital channels like never before. Wellness classes, theater performances, cooking shows, and medical visits have made digital-only services the focus of digital services, and some have adopted a hybrid digital/in-person model that remains in place to this day. Going virtual has provided secure access during the pandemic, but it has also helped consumers easily and affordably access needed services and products, regardless of their geographic location.
Online education has seen tremendous growth in just two years. Students around the world, at all levels of learning, have transitioned to online learning and blended learning. This, in turn, has caused a ripple effect in the field of digital education technology (edtech).
From learning management systems, virtual classrooms, and video conferencing to online testing and tutoring, companies in the education technology sector suddenly have an opportunity to grow quickly if they can move fast enough to attract brains and market share. Technology-based solutions that have removed barriers to distance learning, created more “classroom-style” online environments, offered useful applications and focused on improving student engagement are suddenly in high demand.
One of the greatest benefits of sudden change is the speed of adoption. Education technology brands, technologies, and tools that may have been slowly growing in use are suddenly becoming overwhelmed by sales customers and trial orders. Schools made quick purchases and sales cycles ramped up. Technology aimed at parents of school-aged children has performed similarly as parents searched for ways to help children continue learning on their own time or make up for lost school days.
All the good news for the edtech startups that have been working on this first step. But what happens now?
As we move toward what could be a long-term endemic viral environment, educators and parents are looking at which of the pandemic-led technologies and tools they will keep and which they will eliminate. This leaves newly minted education technology brands with a big question: How do we stay relevant during the next wave of changes and preserve our newly earned revenue?
Focus on longevity
Not all startups are in the educational technology field will remain relevant. There are plenty of companies that have found a niche for the pandemic that may simply not be necessary in the new world of education, including traditional remote group learning platforms. For brands to remain relevant, education technology brands will need to show that the value they have brought through the pandemic remains valuable even after education returns to its pre-pandemic state. Here are five things education tech brands must do to stay on top of their interests and demonstrate enduring relevance.
1. Showcase your work.
If your education technology product has helped students achieve success during the most turbulent times, now is the time to remind parents and teachers of that success. Provide reports, charts, or ratings that show positive change in achievements, reach, or ability. Then display expected accomplishments if students continue to use your products.
2. Highlight your people.
It is easy to change products or stop using them when the perceived need is gone. But people and relationships remain constant. Remember that your offer goes beyond the technology or tools you offer—these resources are optimized because of the people behind them.
For example, at Cuemath we encourage strong relationships between teachers, parents and students. The support and encouragement that comes from teachers helps our users become more confident in their athletic abilities and create brand loyalty.
3. Embrace word of mouth marketing.
While traditional marketing should be a part of any growth plan, don’t overlook word of mouth marketing. When it comes to education, parents trust other parents. Creating programs that highlight student success and foster parent support for educational programs or resources can help establish the brand in the minds of new and existing users alike and keep them coming back.
4. Regression in scalability.
We all know the old saying, “Rome was not built in a day,” and the same is true when setting up a business. While your growth may not be accelerating as quickly as it did during the height of the pandemic, don’t overdo it with correction and shifting focus. Continue the course and build over time, adding resources as they become relevant. Be prepared to scale up or down the offering according to the education climate and create flexible frameworks to ensure that your technology can support your business goals.
5. Be easy and accessible.
As we return to a more traditional learning climate, students may no longer need to teach the value of an entire day via technology platforms. But what they will need are supplemental lessons and snackable lessons to help fill in the learning gaps.
By creating fun and interesting activities and competitions, students and parents will turn to educational tools and be more willing to invest in them – both from a time and cost standpoint. Accessibility is key. Can teachers, parents and students access your offerings online, on tablets and mobile devices? By providing easy access, education technology brands can build a larger user base.
Edtech has come a long way in a couple of years, led by big brands and challenged by startups. Technology raises geographical barriers to education, allowing a student in Oman or the United States to overcome his or her fear of mathematics by learning in real time with a teacher based in India. It gives children in underserved communities access to high-quality teachers who can focus one-on-one with students who need to catch up without feeling the pressure of a traditional classroom.
The adoption of digital tools is not a temporary approach to education; Instead, it is here to stay. But not every edtech company will be around to see what evolution we take from here. By embracing the future of the blended learning environment, creating relevance through the right tools and technology and leveraging people and stories, smart education technology brands will find their place in this new world.