Expect a growing focus in the 2020 international education market on areas that have already been trending in K-12, like social-emotional learning, STEM, and the rise of esports, according to a new report from market research firm Futuresource Consulting.
The report, released this week, looked at new education products and technologies featured at Bett, the massive ed-tech show held annually in London, and identified several themes. Bett featured 800 exhibitors and 34,000 attendees from all over the world.
Here are five areas to watch:
Platform Integration and Interoperability
The U.K. is a bit behind the U.S. when it comes to integrating digital tools for educators and students and for making their use easier with things like single sign-on and interoperability, said Mike Fisher, associate director at Futuresource.
But more companies are realizing that tools like homework apps, seating chart technology, and digital attendance takers need to be integrated with student information systems and learning management systems.
There were more companies at Bett this year offering a full suite of administrative software applications that could be integrated with student information and learning management systems, the report notes.
There was also an increased focus on making single sign-on across applications a priority to reduce administrative time, Fisher said. U.K.-companies Wonde and Groupcall highlighted their data integration capabilities and single sign-on solutions, in an effort to simplify the coordination between SIS platforms and third-party apps, said Andreas Olah, head of education for Futuresource.
Keeping Students Safe
Companies that provide filtering and safeguarding technology through scanning of student communication and online activity attracted attention at Bett, the Futuresoure report found. Increasingly, companies are using artificial intelligence technology to scan student communication, flagging concerns in real-time for education administrators and in some cases parents, around suicide, bullying, and threats.
“Safeguarding is becoming a lot more advanced through the use of AI,” Olah said.
Building on the focus of safeguarding students, education companies have recognized that social-emotional learning is an important topic for schools. Companies that had previously focused more on security and filtering to spot threats and other concerns are now moving to include SEL and student well-being strategies in their offerings.
For example, classroom and networking management software maker Impero, which has a suite of tools to help manage student devices and protect students with keyword threat detection, has rolled out its new EdAware solution, with a digital student portfolio that incorporates information about students’ mental and physical health to flag early warning signs and help target interventions.
Companies are saying “we see this as a trend, let’s jump on it and link everything we do” to SEL, Fisher said.
The report said it was “noticeable” how many providers at Bett were using the term “wellness” to describe their solutions and tools. Administration software providers were also getting in on the action, saying their solutions helped to improve teacher “wellness.”
STEM and STEAM
Innovation around STEM and STEAM isn’t slowing down. The Bett show highlighted creative new products in the robotics and maker segments of the market, Olah said. Companies like LEGO, pi-top and RobotLAB all unveiled new products. However, the Futuresource report notes “the sector struggles to see this translate into commercial success, with difficulty achieving sales volume at scale.”
Often these types of products end up being used in an extracurricular setting and schools are finding it a challenge to incorporate them into the daily curriculum. “It’s difficult to integrate,” Olah said.
Keep an eye on esports to become a more important piece of the ed-tech marketplace, Olah said. While esports has exploded on the higher education scene, it’s also gaining credibility and traction in the K-12 world as high schools and even middle schools establish esports teams. Companies are emphasizing the importance of team building and collaboration around esports and its ability to link to coding and gaming design.
In Scandinavia, esports is being incorporated into the K-12 curriculum, the Futuresource report notes.
At Bett, esports had heightened visibility as major vendors like Dell, Lenovo and Acer showcased esports offerings ranging from new devices and equipment to accessories.