One industry that has been viewed as ripe for innovation and disruption for the past two decades is education. Yet, despite all of this expected potential, edtech has been evolving incrementally and adding on top of the standard learning and teaching practices rather than replacing them.
While this is very likely to remain true, AI combined with current well-validated digital educational technologies could provide a new opportunity for disruption.
With this in mind, let’s delve into four avenues that are reshaping education and consider how new startup founders can position themselves to enter the edtech market.
1. Personalized Learning Platforms
In the bustling digital era, one-size-fits-all education no longer suffices. Just as Google and Facebook revolutionized digital advertising by automatically serving personalized ads, a personalized AI-powered educational feed could be a big opportunity for change.
Artificial intelligence-powered personalized platforms could theoretically assess individual learning styles, preferences, and progress to deliver a curriculum that caters to the unique needs, interests, and capabilities of each learner.
One example in this domain is Duolingo. This language-learning app employs AI algorithms to personalize lessons for users, adapting the difficulty level and content based on their performance. The app’s gamified approach aims to keep its users more engaged and motivated, resulting in more effective language acquisition.
Example business idea: A language pronunciation coach. An app that uses AI to analyze users’ speech patterns and provide personalized feedback to improve their pronunciation in foreign languages.
2. AI-Powered Tutoring Platforms
One great entry point for brand-new edtech startups could be to utilize the API of large language models like Chat GPT. A capable chatbot could serve as a private tutor, providing individual feedback and support, and adapting to the pace and learning style of the student.
Combining the chatbot with standard digital educational content from professionals could be a very potent combination of learning materials and cheap, accessible personalized feedback.
Two illustrative examples are ScribeSense and Grammarly – AI-driven platforms that offer real-time writing feedback. These platforms not only correct grammatical errors but also provide suggestions for improvement, mimicking the role of a human tutor.
Example business idea: AI math tutor for kids. A friendly AI chatbot that assists children in solving math problems, providing step-by-step explanations, and adapting its teaching approach based on the child’s understanding.
3. Skill-Based Learning Apps
The rapidly evolving job landscape demands continuous skill development. This has paved the way for skill-based learning apps that offer focused courses to help individuals acquire niche skills. Startups like Udacity have embraced this trend by providing nanodegree programs in fields like data science, artificial intelligence, and digital marketing. These programs offer hands-on projects and mentorship, ensuring learners acquire real-world skills that are in high demand.
The best part about skill-based learning is that it has thousands of potential niches. If you are an expert in any field that doesn’t have a lot of online competition for educational content, you could easily start a micro-business (most likely to sell digital educational content) and possibly develop it into a high-growth startup thanks to the scalability of digital technology if you manage to transform your micro-business into a niche-focused platform.
Of course, if you would manage to grow your online content business into a real startup depends on how innovative you can be.
Example business idea: Virtual reality welding simulator. Build a VR simulation tool that teaches welding skills in a safe and controlled virtual environment, allowing users to practice and refine their techniques.
4. Collaborative Learning Platforms
While collaborative work is industry-standard all over the world thanks to cloud-based solutions like Google Docs, Notion, and many others, collaborative learning hasn’t caught up with that trend yet.
In theory, however, the concept of a digital classroom could provide value for learners.
A collaborative learning platform would enable students from diverse backgrounds and geographies to come together virtually, fostering a global community of learners. Startups like Coursera exemplify this trend. Partnering with universities worldwide, Coursera offers courses on a wide range of subjects, allowing learners to interact with peers from different cultures and access high-quality education without geographical constraints.
That said, collaborative learning has a long way to go, and an innovative platform that integrates the capabilities and learnings of industry-leading collaborative working apps could create a lot of value and reap success in the edtech industry.
Example business idea: Global niche book club platform. An online platform that connects readers from different parts of the world who are interested in the same niche of books and discuss books together, possibly producing joint book reviews.