Education Technology (EdTech) refers to teaching and learning materials and processes using technological tools and applications. The terms online learning and e-learning are often interchangeable with EdTech and encompass digital educational tools and the internet, where students and teachers interact and course material is distributed. Instruction may happen solely online or include some face-to-face interaction (called “blended” or “hybrid” learning). While the industry spans from early education to adult learners, the focus of this report is the K-12 end-user market.
Online learning is not a new concept; however, it has experienced a tremendous surge due to school closures following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the advantages of online learning, there are also significant challenges, and sustained growth post pandemic is far from guaranteed.
The EdTech market for K-12 students can be categorized broadly into online school operators, content providers, and technology providers. The industry is dominated by incumbents that have grown both organically and via acquisition as well as large technology companies that have expanded into the education space.
Online school operators are mostly for-profit corporations that run state-funded, tuition-free schools as an alternative to traditional public schools. The main players in this space have built their own platforms. Pearson is one of the top two education management organizations (EMOs) in the US.
Content-based product providers offer a variety of curricular and extracurricular classes to enhance students’ traditional education. They can be further categorized into curriculum-based learning, language or technology learning, test preparation and tutoring, early childhood or special education, and so on. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), McGraw-Hill Education, and Cengage are top providers in this space reaching a large share of US school districts, teachers, and students. As established providers of content and learning solutions for students, instructors, professionals, and institutions, they have extended their offerings to include digital platforms.
Technology-based product providers can be further categorized into learning management systems (LMS), testing and assessment, operational, reference and search, and networking. Incumbents in this space include global technology companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon who have introduced various digital solutions for the education sector.