As anyone who has seen a toddler get their hands on a smartphone can testify, the digital revolution isn't just for adults. While concerns about the next generation growing up with square eyes and fried brains bubble to the surface now and again, the more positive trend of using digital to enhance education seems to be gathering steam in the UK.
The edtech companies on our Digital Innovators list are certainly an exciting cohort. They're using some of the biggest technology developments to present learning materials in a more relevant and engaging way to learners whatever their age – a great example being Memrise's use of AI and machine learning to adapt to users' personal learning style and performance, or Blippar's use of augmented reality to turn the world into an interactive learning environment.
There was some talk earlier on in the year about edtech startups needing to up their game when it comes to their business models, in order to turn their brilliant products into a monetiseable business that turns a profit for their creators. It is crucial for the latest breed of edtech businesses to spend time and effort working out a viable business model, assessing where funding is going to come from and how they are going to get paying customers for their products.
As with healthtech, these businesses need to negotiate the sometimes archaic public sector in order to get their innovative products in the hands of their target audiences – a strong business model and good funding is needed to successfully overcome these hurdles.
One approach is to target teachers themselves – there are thought to be over 75,000 educational apps available on the market and BYOD (bring your own device) is becoming a mantra in the classroom, but teachers still need to be able to take control of their students' learning environments. This is where ZZish comes in – using a custom platform to monitor which students need help, with what and how they're progressing – and helping teachers to set app-based homework for their classes.
EdAid takes a different – but no less innovative – approach, empowering students to be able to continue through to higher education by leveraging their potential through a crowdfunding platform. EdAid connects students with people they know – or corporates that want a different kind of graduate recruitment programme – to crowdfund towards the cost of university and access the best internships and graduate jobs.
All of these offer a more personalised approach to education, something that there will clearly be continuing appetite for in the coming years. The edtech journey is only just beginning, and our Power List companies are leading the charge.
See who's made our Digital Innovators list.