Is edutech the next industry to see an economic boom?

Compass Intelligence--a market research firm specializing in vertical markets for the high-tech, IT, and telecom industries--estimates that the U.S. EduTech market alone will grow to $56.2 billion by 2012, with the bulk of spending focusing on applications for improving collaboration, increasing productivity, and managing computer upgrades. Further, Compass Intelligence reports that a majority of those it surveyed believe that the EduTech market will continue to experience growth, regardless of the overall economy. A number of trends have created a strong foundation to support such initiatives, including:

• Broadband accessibility: most schools are equipped with high-speed Internet access, but are underutilizing these capabilities for only basic communications and online information gathering.
• Availability of technology: the cost is dropping for personal technology and hardware, such as laptops, netbooks, and digital whiteboards, while students and teachers have become more proficient in its use.
• Social networking: familiarity with Facebook and MySpace, as well as other similar applications, has resulted in a greater comfort level with navigating in online communities.
• No Child Left Behind: Despite the criticisms and insufficient funding, this law has driven both schools and parents to find solutions for improving performance, many of which are technology-driven.

K-12 EduTech opportunities are emerging in a number of key areas. The four primary areas include:

• Connecting schools and homes to encourage transparency, collaboration, and interaction between teachers, students, parents and administrators;
• Learning management, which includes more content and test-taking capabilities being put online and providing additional support for students;
• Online curriculums to support distance learning and the ability to more easily attain advanced training and degrees; and
• Performance analytics, which encompasses the ability to mine data to ensure that students are meeting and/or exceeding the basic requirements of their grade levels.

-- Javier Rojas, managing partner for Kennet Partners Ltd.

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