Investment in Tech by the Education Sector Has Soared

Investment in Tech by the Education Sector Has Soared

Investment in Tech by the Education Sector Soared in 2020, with the Rise of Hybrid Learning Expected to Fuel Further Growth

Education technology has been a growing industry for years. Adoption started in a bid to prepare students to work in increasingly digitised environments. However, it quickly progressed to driving productivity (for staff and students) and (through analytics solutions) creating a more personalised learning experience.  

The education technology industry has been one of the few to witness growth as a direct result of Covid-19. Investments in US education technology start-ups hit a record $2.2 billion in 2020. On a global level, investments totalled more than $16 billion - a staggering 32-fold increase from 2010 (source: Edsurge). Growth was also witnessed on a product segment level - from software tools to AV devices - 2020 was a record year for most, with sales to education in 2021 and beyond also looking promising.    

Rapid Shift to Distance Learning Drives Surge in Demand for Mobile Computing Solutions

The outbreak of Covid-19 forced schools across the world to adopt distance learning overnight. Lessons were delivered via various mediums: TV; radio; even deliveries of printouts from textbooks but digital learning accessed through the student's mobile computing device was the preferred teaching method as it was deemed to maximise education continuity.

However, in 2019 the global penetration of mobile computing devices among K12 students was just 5.6%. According to Futuresource's WW Quarterly K-12 Mobile PC Tracker, global demand for devices soared 24% 'YoY' in CYQ2 2020 as schools scrambled to provide devices to as many students as possible. Demand for mobile PCs in 2020 was up 69% 'YoY'. The record level of demand generated significant supply shortages, which will continue into 2021.

The low penetration of mobile computers highlighted the prevalence of device equity across the globe. Not only was this evident at a country level, but on a local level as well. Countries such as the USA, UK, Italy and Germany provided millions in emergency funds to support distance learning, with money often allocated to children from low-income families.

The supply shortages drove many schools to adopt a BYOD (bring-your-own-device) strategy - with parents having to purchase their child's mobile computing device. Research conducted by Futuresource found that BYOD strategies are most effective when managed end-to-end, with parents instructed to buy a certain device or (at the very least) OS to ensure efficient classroom management. However, most schools failed to provide any instruction on what parents should purchase - which will only lead to significant complications when they are brought into the classroom. Moreover, tragically, there was a record rise in online child grooming during lockdown as safeguarding students proved to be far more challenging whilst students learned from home - particularly on personal devices.  

In February, Microsoft announced that 100m students are now using its Teams collaboration platform. According to Futuresource's EdTech Voice end-user survey, two out of three K12 schools in the USA are using some form of digital learning or assessment tool. Indeed, productivity tools such as Teams and its competitors Apple iWork and Google Workspace for Education, are now used for a range of activities from homework submission and grading, to task collaboration and student-to-student messaging.

Preparation for hybrid learning in both K-12 and Higher Ed driving sales across multiple AV categories. 

Most schools are now fully open. However, there is an acute awareness for the need to prepare for 'hybrid learning' - a blend of online and offline tuition, with students at home as well as in the classroom. This requirement not only continues to fuel demand for mobile computing devices and associated tools, but also AV devices used to facilitate streamed lessons.

Futuresource's Visualiser Market Tracker found that 'hyrbid learning' environments have caused the visualiser market to witness the first rise in shipments for five years. Teachers are finding them helpful in sharing images; work; documents and actions to students located both inside and outside the classroom.

As this new demand was relatively sudden, inventory in the channel was quickly allocated and there are now significant stock shortages. This backlog is expected to help drive 'YoY' growth of 9.1% in 2021, the largest 'YoY' increase witnessed in ten years.

Shipments of IFPDs also grew in H2 2020 - shipments to K12 schools soared 35% 'YoY' according to Futuresource's WW Quarterly Interactive Display Tracker. Demand for IFPDs from higher education institutions rose 34% 'YoY' across the same period.

The shift from IWBs and projectors to IFPDs started a decade ago. However, Covid-19 accelerated this trend due to the heightened need for integrated collaboration tools. Shipments of front projectors to education fell 41% 'YoY' globally in 2020, whilst demand for IWBs plummeted 58% 'YoY'.

Enhanced Competition Among Higher Education Institutions Driving Adoption of Premium Lecture Capture Solutions 

According to recent research by Futuresource, demand for PTZ cameras also rose significantly in 2020, particularly in higher education. Akin to K-12, universities are also preparing for hybrid learning and are integrating PTZ cameras into seminar rooms (as most already had them installed in their main auditoriums). Education attributes to over 20% of the global PTZ market.

Remote learning was growing in popularity pre-Covid in higher institutions. This was a key driver of growth in the professional audio space - as was a broader focus on improving facilities due to heightened competition among institutions. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 caused a rapid acceleration in adoption.

Futuresource's Professional Audio research found that audio strategy has now become a key consideration for universities.  Investments not only focussed on the lecture capture component of audio, but also increased emphasis on the entire audio signal chain, from microphones, recording equipment and sound reinforcement systems, to the DSP and audio over IP (AoIP) networks that support them.

Innovations in audio tech has also been a key growth driver: sales of beamforming microphone technology has risen significantly in higher education over recent years - now acting as a high quality, contact-free, flexible audio device for capturing presenters and even audience members wherever they are in the room. Meanwhile, improvements in the cost-effectiveness and functionality of DSP, as well as increases in the number of AoIP-enabled devices now available, has also provided significant opportunities for institutions looking to upgrade to a comprehensive and fully connected network of audio devices.

Covid-19 did not create new technologies within EdTech but rather accelerated the adoption of existing ones, and is thought to have triggered a permanent shift to digital learning in countries across the world (at various rates of economic development). This new age of education will drive further demand across a range of AV categories long after Covid-19 has been reduced to a bad memory.


Investment in Tech by the Education Sector Soared in 2020, with the Rise of Hybrid Learning Expected to Fuel Further Growth

Education technology has been a growing industry for years. Adoption started in a bid to prepare students to work in increasingly digitised environments. However, it quickly progressed to driving productivity (for staff and students) and (through analytics solutions) creating a more personalised learning experience.  

The education technology industry has been one of the few to witness growth as a direct result of Covid-19. Investments in US education technology start-ups hit a record $2.2 billion in 2020. On a global level, investments totalled more than $16 billion - a staggering 32-fold increase from 2010 (source: Edsurge). Growth was also witnessed on a product segment level - from software tools to AV devices - 2020 was a record year for most, with sales to education in 2021 and beyond also looking promising.    

Rapid Shift to Distance Learning Drives Surge in Demand for Mobile Computing Solutions

The outbreak of Covid-19 forced schools across the world to adopt distance learning overnight. Lessons were delivered via various mediums: TV; radio; even deliveries of printouts from textbooks but digital learning accessed through the student's mobile computing device was the preferred teaching method as it was deemed to maximise education continuity.

However, in 2019 the global penetration of mobile computing devices among K12 students was just 5.6%. According to Futuresource's WW Quarterly K-12 Mobile PC Tracker, global demand for devices soared 24% 'YoY' in CYQ2 2020 as schools scrambled to provide devices to as many students as possible. Demand for mobile PCs in 2020 was up 69% 'YoY'. The record level of demand generated significant supply shortages, which will continue into 2021.

The low penetration of mobile computers highlighted the prevalence of device equity across the globe. Not only was this evident at a country level, but on a local level as well. Countries such as the USA, UK, Italy and Germany provided millions in emergency funds to support distance learning, with money often allocated to children from low-income families.

The supply shortages drove many schools to adopt a BYOD (bring-your-own-device) strategy - with parents having to purchase their child's mobile computing device. Research conducted by Futuresource found that BYOD strategies are most effective when managed end-to-end, with parents instructed to buy a certain device or (at the very least) OS to ensure efficient classroom management. However, most schools failed to provide any instruction on what parents should purchase - which will only lead to significant complications when they are brought into the classroom. Moreover, tragically, there was a record rise in online child grooming during lockdown as safeguarding students proved to be far more challenging whilst students learned from home - particularly on personal devices.  

In February, Microsoft announced that 100m students are now using its Teams collaboration platform. According to Futuresource's EdTech Voice end-user survey, two out of three K12 schools in the USA are using some form of digital learning or assessment tool. Indeed, productivity tools such as Teams and its competitors Apple iWork and Google Workspace for Education, are now used for a range of activities from homework submission and grading, to task collaboration and student-to-student messaging.

Preparation for hybrid learning in both K-12 and Higher Ed driving sales across multiple AV categories. 

Most schools are now fully open. However, there is an acute awareness for the need to prepare for 'hybrid learning' - a blend of online and offline tuition, with students at home as well as in the classroom. This requirement not only continues to fuel demand for mobile computing devices and associated tools, but also AV devices used to facilitate streamed lessons.

Futuresource's Visualiser Market Tracker found that 'hyrbid learning' environments have caused the visualiser market to witness the first rise in shipments for five years. Teachers are finding them helpful in sharing images; work; documents and actions to students located both inside and outside the classroom.

As this new demand was relatively sudden, inventory in the channel was quickly allocated and there are now significant stock shortages. This backlog is expected to help drive 'YoY' growth of 9.1% in 2021, the largest 'YoY' increase witnessed in ten years.

Shipments of IFPDs also grew in H2 2020 - shipments to K12 schools soared 35% 'YoY' according to Futuresource's WW Quarterly Interactive Display Tracker. Demand for IFPDs from higher education institutions rose 34% 'YoY' across the same period.

The shift from IWBs and projectors to IFPDs started a decade ago. However, Covid-19 accelerated this trend due to the heightened need for integrated collaboration tools. Shipments of front projectors to education fell 41% 'YoY' globally in 2020, whilst demand for IWBs plummeted 58% 'YoY'.

Enhanced Competition Among Higher Education Institutions Driving Adoption of Premium Lecture Capture Solutions 

According to recent research by Futuresource, demand for PTZ cameras also rose significantly in 2020, particularly in higher education. Akin to K-12, universities are also preparing for hybrid learning and are integrating PTZ cameras into seminar rooms (as most already had them installed in their main auditoriums). Education attributes to over 20% of the global PTZ market.

Remote learning was growing in popularity pre-Covid in higher institutions. This was a key driver of growth in the professional audio space - as was a broader focus on improving facilities due to heightened competition among institutions. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 caused a rapid acceleration in adoption.

Futuresource's Professional Audio research found that audio strategy has now become a key consideration for universities.  Investments not only focussed on the lecture capture component of audio, but also increased emphasis on the entire audio signal chain, from microphones, recording equipment and sound reinforcement systems, to the DSP and audio over IP (AoIP) networks that support them.

Innovations in audio tech has also been a key growth driver: sales of beamforming microphone technology has risen significantly in higher education over recent years - now acting as a high quality, contact-free, flexible audio device for capturing presenters and even audience members wherever they are in the room. Meanwhile, improvements in the cost-effectiveness and functionality of DSP, as well as increases in the number of AoIP-enabled devices now available, has also provided significant opportunities for institutions looking to upgrade to a comprehensive and fully connected network of audio devices.

Covid-19 did not create new technologies within EdTech but rather accelerated the adoption of existing ones, and is thought to have triggered a permanent shift to digital learning in countries across the world (at various rates of economic development). This new age of education will drive further demand across a range of AV categories long after Covid-19 has been reduced to a bad memory.

 

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