Sunday, 28 October 2012

"Investors are hungry" for education technology

The Financial Post says investors are hungry for edtech investments.  The evidence for this is an increase in U.S. education technology investments from $52 million in 2005 to $930 million in 2011.  The global "education market" is estimated to be about $2 trillion.

A spillover investor interest in Canada was identified by the Post as well.  Desire2Learn (D2L) raised $80 million from venture capital investments in September, the largest amount ever raised as a software investment in Canada, according to the Post.   The next step for D2L is to "start scooping up smaller startups with innovative technologies."
D2L is a learning management system (LMS), the software used to manage the assignments, marks and other information about students.  It is particularly used in online learning programs, but can be used to manage classroom information as well. 

The company that produces D2L is located in Waterloo, Ontario.  Its major proprietary competitor is Blackboard, which took over the other main Canadian-created LMS, WebCT.  Moodle is the main open source LMS, free to use, but with high time demands for maintenance and upgrades.
The link between privatization and education technology is made explicit in the Post article.  Teach for America (TFA)  is a program that puts university grads without teaching qualifications into U.S. public schools as teachers.  The Post reports that TFA "has trained an education corps of almost 28,000 young teachers interested in education reform. Many of them, disillusioned with traditional classroom teaching, have started private companies or not-for-profits to change the system from the outside."

The Post does have some strategic advice for edtech businesses that might be directed to the promoters of the BC Education Plan as well :
"Smart entrepreneurs dole out their technological solutions in easily digestible chunks that don’t force busy teachers to re-imagine their classrooms from the ground up. After all, teachers still have many other low-tech realities to consider: paper report cards, chalkboards and overhead[s]. The everyday reality of a ringing bell and a packed curriculum makes implementation of sweeping digital reform all the more difficult."

Find the Financial Post article from September 10, 2012 at

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