We spoke to edtech entrepreneurs from around Southeast Asia to better understand what is on the horizon for the industry in 2021. With the challenges and obstacles from 2021 still resonating in the region, the future of edtech is actually quite a bright spot for the startup ecosystem.

There was quick digitisation of the education industry during this period and edtech as a whole made significant strides. Our team of experts share their views and opinions on the edtech industry in 2021.

Edtech founders and entrepreneurs share their analysis of edtech in 2020

Stanley Han, Koobits

Maths-focused startup Koobits CEO sees a relatively uncertain future given the changing landscape around the pandemic, the vaccine and how it will impact education.

For 2021, I would imagine the same momentum will continue for a while, because COVID is not really behind us yet. There are still a lot of uncertainties about future waves of infection and how effective the newly developed vaccines are. Given such uncertainty, I would imagine schools and parents would want to continue exploring EdTech solutions as backup choices for their children’s learning. Different types of EdTech solutions will likely emerge to cater for the needs of different types of schools and learners, from automated solutions to more customized or personalized ones.

Dr. Woo Yen Yen, Yumcha Studios

The co-founder of this early education startup expects a quick paradigm shift that will see edtech solutions become the norm for education around the region.

Remote learning is here to stay. We are already seeing Artificial Intelligence making significant in-roads into education, with various tools that are meant to make mundane teaching and learning tasks—such as grading and worksheet generation—much more efficient. However, they are still predicated on traditional pedagogical practices.

We anticipate that in 2021, more edtech companies will shift from focusing on Artificial Intelligence to Human Intelligence—how tech tools should help kids be more creative, better thinkers, more socially responsible, and globally competent. For these much more fundamental goals, we need edtech products that offer breakthroughs in curriculum and pedagogy, and which support collaboration, connection, creativity and even social action.

Nick Hutton, D2L

The Regional Director of Asia for D2L expressed a quick maturation of the industry as educators are being exposed to more choice and being able to make better decisions.

As more teachers and facilitators grow more aware of the benefits of the use of technology, they’ll gradually become more discerning with the options they look out for. There will be greater interest to invest in a solution given the now accepted longevity of having technology be a pivotal part of teaching and learning plans for the next year. With that comes the shift from mainly video delivery to fully-interactive technology-enhanced learning.

It’s about the development and use of content specific to a digital environment which moves away from having learners to sit through hours of live video conferencing. There will be greater appetite for the use of augmented & virtual reality-type content, leveraging on artificial intelligence to enhance the personalised learner experience and streamline work and reporting for facilitators, and classes will increasingly be learn-on-the-go remotely rather than as a herded class due to the already high global mobile usage.

This will shape the evolution of the types of learning. Gamified learning will be taken more seriously as its original intended meaning as a psychologically-driven approach incorporating game design elements in the learning design to increase learner motivation, rather than just as animated interactive content. Learning will become more collaborative especially in the virtual environment, moving away from the lecture-style one-way delivery. As the need for geographic travel is reduced due to technology connectivity, in comes the opportunity for greater experiential learning where learners have access to real-world situations regardless of where they are based.    

Jamie Tan, Flying Cape

The CEO of tuition and enrichment marketplace startup Flying Cape sees a bright and varied 12-months for edtech in Southeast Asia. From greater adoption to a fast-advancing edtech ecosystem, we can expect a lot of change in the industry in 2021.

Higher adoption into mainstream education

Adoption of EdTech solutions in the early days may have started as a way to prepare for pandemic planning, but we now see a change in mindset. The unprecedented period and duration by which the schools have been forced to adopt Edtech solution have given schools enough time to work around the teething issues using technology. In 2021, more schools will be in a better position to adopt edtech solutions into mainstream education, and as such, we will see the role of the teacher adapt accordingly. For example, AI-enabled solutions will help enhance the role of a teacher by enabling educators to provide more personalised attention to their students to achieve long-term learning needs.

Enhanced access to education transcending geographical borders

With technology, learners can make the best choices for themselves in terms of price and fit and geographical boundaries are no longer a constraint.  

Searching for the best teacher for various needs will become more efficient, and learners will have a broader range of options ranging from offline to online as well as home-based learning options.  

More innovation in EdTech solutions

With formerly brick and mortar companies going online as well as an increase in investments made into the EdTech industry, we will also likely see more innovative solutions to support learning. Advanced Technologies used to create and reinvent education will help create a more engaging learning experience for learners, and better prepare them for potential challenges for the future.  

Learning analytics facilitating for more effective personalised education 

With greater technology advancements and increased utilisation in automated technology like machine learning and artificial intelligence, learners will not only gain access to personalised education but will also be able to harness the power of data to gain insights on their learning journey. For instance, learning analytics can help educators identify students who may demonstrate an early onset of academic or behavioral challenges and access new solutions to help them adapt so as to enable them to reach their full potential.

At Tech Collective, we want to know what you think will define edtech in 2021. Share your thoughts in the comments or drop us a message. We’d love to hear from you and also share your thoughts and opinions with our community.