As schools around the world closed for months in 2020, and labour market changes led workers to seek re-skilling options, lockdown-safe learning shifted online. EdTech is a global growth sector, with investment on track to grow by 15% in 2020. For 2020’s (rescheduled) London Tech Week, and in partnership with London & Partners, we dived into global EdTech trends from a London perspective.
London has a rich educational history and one of the best performing tech ecosystems in the world. For the report we spoke to some of the founders behind London’s current class of EdTech startups for their view on the pandemic impact, scaling challenges, and the future of learning.
Download the complete 20-page report on EdTech
Euan Blair, Sophie Edelman – Whitehat
Career-focused modern professional apprenticeships
How can apprenticeships address the challenges of equality and productivity in the UK?
Apprenticeships have adapted much more quickly to plug the skills gaps businesses face and now represent some of the best routes into careers in tech and digital roles. Universities no longer have a monopoly on access to the top careers and we’re aiming for a more democratic approach, championing apprenticeships and non-traditional routes to skills, training and career development. Many people are realising that choosing an apprenticeship, in areas where there are skills gaps, such as digital and tech, can lead directly into top careers employment. We know that providing opportunities in areas of business demand will support a sustainable economic recovery to help set the UK up for the long term.
The pandemic has drastically impacted how we learn and work, how do apprenticeships fit in?
Every company is on its own tech journey, and we’ve adapted our digital training this year to make our apprenticeships accessible and we’ve learnt a lot. For many people having structured learning alongside their jobs, and the support of a community of apprentices, has been vital during lockdown. It’s one of the reasons we’ve continued to grow, both our own headcount, and the number of apprentices and employers we work with.
If you were leaving school today, would you do an apprenticeship?
Yes certainly. The quality of content, subjects and opportunities for employment are now world class and that wasn’t the case when I left school. Now, apprenticeships are a first choice for many young people who, as a result, are confidently taking charge of their futures.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities that you see ahead for WhiteHat’s scaling journey?
Our biggest emphasis once lockdown struck was on working out ways to deliver world class training and an authentic community experience in a totally remote way. It meant investing in staff and extra capabilities, and adding to our community offering, with an extra focus on wellbeing and mental health. Ultimately this approach has provided opportunities, and there are some courses where remote learning has proved easier and more impactful.
Frank Furnari – VRtuoso
VR presentations and corporate learning
How does Virtual Reality Learning work?
Immersive learning and training works as a major stimulus to help learners acquire the knowledge and skill. Learners are fully immersed in a safe and realistic virtual environment where they are able to experiment, practice and learn without the fear of failure. VR also allows unique interactivity, for example instructors can even control what learners see on their headset in real time.
What kind of impact does experiential VR have on learning and retention?
The Edgar Dale cone of learning indicates that learners are likely to retain up to 90% of the knowledge, after a 2-week period, when they use immersive learning solutions such as VR, this compares to 10% for reading an article, and 20% for watching a video. What’s more, VR training is 4x faster than classroom training.
What are the accessibility challenges for VR learning?
The main key challenges are access to VR headsets and VR headsets hygiene (post-Covid) – solved by VRtuoso thanks to its agnostic approach on consuming VR content also on personal devices, smartphones, tablets, PCs.
What are your biggest scaling challenges, how has Covid-19 impacted your business, and what are you growth plans for 2020 and beyond?
Covid-19 has unfortunately altered the way learning must take place. It has validated the growing need for remote training, education and collaboration solutions in the commercial sector. We have seen our biggest growth to date; 250% growth since the start of the year and +32% platform usage compared to the last 4 months of 2019. It is hard to truly predict business forecasts during the Covid-19 period, but based on our recent engagements, we expect to grow significantly in the next 12 months.
Jacob Waern – Edume
Mobile-first remote training
What kind of impact has the crisis had on Edume?
We’ve seen our customers use our product more than ever as EduMe, a mobile-first solution, becomes the best, or only, way to effectively train, communicate and engage with their workforce. Along the same lines, we’ve managed to form new partnerships with the likes of Deliveroo, who are rolling out EduMe to their couriers worldwide.
What made you choose London to found Edume?
I think London chose me! An opportunity arose in London so we decided to move over. I then quickly found the perfect breeding ground for what became EduMe through access to great, international talent, ease of doing business and a very outward looking mindset of bringing new great tech products to the world.
What trends have you noticed from client behaviour so far in 2020?
Increased creativity and reliance on EduMe as the digital transformation has accelerated. From a product perspective, this is an interesting time as I feel we have a very close dialogue with our customers about how we can really help them and the things that move the needle.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
Our recent Series A allows us to continue to invest heavily in a product that helps companies globally to train, engage and communicate with their increasingly disperse and deskless workforce. We will double-down on industries where we already have a good fit, like in the on-demand industry, but we’re also seeing strong demand from other industries and this fundraise will allow us to expand. We’re currently in aggressive hiring mode, as we’re looking for talent to join our team across all functions.