Edtech gaps

My recent job search has been interesting. I’m moving from working in a tech/data position in higher ed (at NYU) and hunting in edtech. It’s been awesome so far – I’m getting great reception in the Bay Area, and it seems like there is a great new edtech company every day.

But I feel like there are also some gaps in the market. I’m sure that my viewpoint is slanted somewhat by my background in international nonprofits and higher ed, but there are some obvious issues outside of K-12 that don’t seem to be getting a lot of attention in the tech space.

Obviously, K-12 is important. It’s something that affects all of us, even those who don’t have children. We’re also familiar with it because we all went through it ourselves. At the same time, college costs are becoming a huge issue, and it’s clear that something has to change. President Obama recently announced that the federal government will start to rate colleges (which doesn’t seem to please some people in higher ed).

We’re also seeing education become increasingly international. I’m fairly skeptical of IIE’s Open Doors report, but they have been showing the number of international students in US colleges increasing by over 5% for several years. When politicians are vowing to deport immigrant children while promising to “staple a green card to every STEM diploma,” it’s odd that technology in international ed doesn’t get more attention (or perhaps, funding).

That’s not to say that nothing is happening in either higher ed or international ed. I’ve come across some very cool startups, especially in higher ed, doing amazing work. One aspect of higher ed tech that is exciting is that more startups are focusing on administrative or communication tools, which is where I suspect we’ll see the most success. But if you look at Edsurge, higher ed makes up just 1/8 of all the products they have listed, and there is no section for international ed.

It should be interesting to see where we go from here. I’m guessing that as edtech grows, and more edtech startups are successful, we’ll see more growth in products or services outside of the K-12 classroom experience. With the amazing number of companies that are founded in the US by immigrants, it shouldn’t be long before we see more interest in universities and international students.

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