Ed-tech surges in a remote working world

Francesca Morgan
Industry Insight
16:02, 14th April 2020

As students are forced off campus, the world is grappling with the unexpected challenge of managing a new reality of distance learning in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.

The first wave saw unprecedented demand for Asian online education companies as hundreds of millions of students were unable to attend school and told to stay at home.

The online shift across Asia saw record digital enrolments, spurred share prices higher and boosted capital for those ‘ed-tech’ start-ups seeking to expand, the Financial Times reported in March.

One of China’s largest online education companies, Yuanfudao, raised $1bn in March after witnessing record demand, underscoring how the pandemic has boosted ‘ed-tech’ start-ups.

We previously reported that since 2010, investors have directed over $2 billion into startups operating in the United States’ K-12 educational technology, or ‘edtech,’ market including those using VR and AR.

And those investors now expect the volume of pitches to outpace that from previous years after 21 states in the US have recommended or ordered the closure of schools, impacting at least 55.1 million students.

In a 2019 survey by international law firm Perkins Coie and the XR (cross reality) Association, 41% of respondents chose education as the “most applicable” sector for VR and AR; 36% of participants thought the most VR and AR investment would be directed into education.

The sudden curriculum shift has prompted education leaders to manage content creation in a new, remote-working world using emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.

In the education landscape, UK-based companies such as Dev Clever Holdings (DEV) FOLLOW have already laid out the groundwork to take advantage of this growth and shape the industry.

DEV price chartShares in Dev Clever have risen from 1.2p at the beginning of the calendar year to close on 9 April at 4.0p.

The developer of mobile and immersive educational experience announced in September 2019 an agreement with Lenovo, the world’s largest supplier of educational technology, to pre-install its careers guidance platforms on Lenovo VR Classroom devices across the UK.

Having rolled out its solutions at scale across 191 schools in the UK - reportedly the largest market for VR and AR in Europe - the company is now gearing up to launch in North America this month.

“We believe the US is the largest EdTech market globally, and it therefore represents a significant opportunity for the company,” said Chris Jeffries, Chief Executive of Dev Clever.

A Lenovo VR Headset pictured above.

Ronald Wong, General Manager of Hong Kong and Macau of Lenovo, said that VR and AR can offer a unique way for people to connect during a period of social distancing including its use within education to make learning “more fun and engaging.”

"As a trusted partner, Lenovo understands the challenges schools face in transforming education with new models of teaching, learning, and collaborating, all while managing cost, efficiency, and security," he added.

This month’s launch in the US is also representative of Dev Clever’s first steps into a wider strategy to offer its careers guidance platform to educational institutions on a global scale.

And the UK company is not alone in its efforts -- this morning, AIM-listed VR Education (AIM:VRE) FOLLOW announced the signing of a deal with US firm VictoryXR to use its virtual Engage platform in support of those students affected by the pandemic.

VR Education’s Engage platform is used to provide remote training, distance learning and also hosts global virtual events, including tech company HTC’s event in March.

With more than 2.5 million students being home-schooled before the pandemic, the number is only likely to rise – as well as demand for remote education platforms - as restrictions are intensified to curb the spread of the disease.

VRE price chart

In a 2019 report, PwC found that one of the main challenges to the mainstream adoption of VR and AR technology was education and that “few members of the public have an accurate understanding of the technology due to a lack of first-hand experience.”

As “ed-tech” firms are now demonstrating, the pandemic is pushing these technologies as necessary solutions, rather than options, for educational purposes around the world.

Commenting on increasing demand, the company’s CEO, David Whelan added, “As a result of this world changing event, we believe that this number is likely to accelerate quickly as students and parents become familiar with working online at home.” 

Follow News & Updates from Dev Clever here: FOLLOW and VR Education here: FOLLOW

Disclaimer & Declaration of Interest

The information, investment views and recommendations in this article are provided for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any financial product relating to any companies under discussion or to engage in or refrain from doing so or engaging in any other transaction. Any opinions or comments are made to the best of the knowledge and belief of the writer but no responsibility is accepted for actions based on such opinions or comments. Vox Markets may receive payment from companies mentioned for enhanced profiling or publication presence. The writer may or may not hold investments in the companies under discussion.

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