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Expanding EdTech to More Students Amid the Pandemic in New Zealand

The COVID-19 crisis has compelled education systems all over the world to seek alternatives to face-to-face instruction. As a result, online teaching and learning have been used on an unprecedented scale by teachers and students. Even though lockdowns – whether massive or localised – may be required again in the future to respond to new waves of the infection until a vaccine is available, governments must identify which policies can maximise the effectiveness of online learning.

In expanding Edtech in the country, a kiwi education start-up has set an ambitious goal of having 100 million users of its software worldwide in about two years. The company is more than a quarter there with 27 million users of the collaborative digital classroom app after the company was founded by three students studying at Auckland University who’ve now built the business into a global force in the highly controlled and highly contested education space.

They established a cloud-based collaborative note-taking app to share their notes, which has since spread around the world. The company’s revenue has been boosted by the need for remote learning as a result of the pandemic, and it is now ten times what it was in 2019. Covid-19 accelerated the education technology sector by five years, increasing the demand for technology in the classroom.

Teachers and students were no longer required to print screeds of pages from pdfs or digital copies of textbooks, which were then scanned back into students’ E-learning books. It saved millions of dollars in printing costs as well as a significant amount of time spent by teachers on printing for lessons. The app allowed teachers and students to work on the digital copies and pdfs in the E-learning book. They could work on the documents on the screen, which the teacher could see.

Furthermore, the educational app was designed to be used in all subjects. If children were absent from school, they could work remotely via the app. The app also aided students with disabilities in the United States. It removed the barrier that kept them from participating in the mainstream classroom because they no longer required different software.

“We’re basically breaking down the four walls of the classroom and making it more flexible for the teachers and the students. They can be anywhere any time doing their work. It’s teaching these kids to be ready for the workforce by learning the right tools,” said one of the developers. They were constantly improving the app.

The company had given away its usage licences for free in New Zealand. Initially, New Zealand schools bring-your-own-device policy meant that students frequently had devices with different operating systems and found it difficult to use the app, but this was changing as more students used E-learning books.

Education technology is a hot market right now, but it wasn’t when they started eight years ago, she explained. The trio raised their first round of seed funding in 2018 and have investors from New Zealand, Australia, and Silicon Valley on their side. They still own more than 45 % of the company, while their mentor and company chairman own slightly more than 4 %.

With this abrupt shift away from the classroom in many parts of the world, some are wondering if the adoption of online learning will continue post-pandemic, and how such a shift would impact the global education market.  Even before COVID-19, education technology was experiencing rapid growth and adoption, with global EdTech investments reaching US$18.66 billion in 2019 and the overall market for online education projected to reach $350 billion by 2025. Since COVID-19, there has been a significant increase in the usage of language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools, and online learning software.


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