While almost every industry has undergone a digital revolution in recent years, the education sector lingered at the back of the class. The coronavirus crisis, however, has been a game changer for educational technology, known as EdTech.
In the future, 2020 will likely be regarded as the pivotal point at which the traditional education system began to undergo extensive disruption. “This is education’s Netflix moment,” says Kirill Pyshkin, Senior Portfolio Manager at Credit Suisse.
191 countries implemented nationwide closures, affecting around 98 percent of the world’s student population, according to UNESCO monitoring. What that meant was approximately 1.7 billion students were studying remotely; disruption borne of disruption.
Ruangguru, Southeast Asia’s largest EdTech company was quick to launch a free online school in mid-March, as schools in Indonesia shut down. Online classes ran for five hours every weekday simultaneously across 18 live streaming channels, with tutors covering all school subjects from Grades 1 to 12. Mirroring a normal school, students could learn a different subject each hour and also had access to free live quiz sessions in the afternoons and evenings.
“The number of users and downloads of our app increased significantly after we launched the free Ruangguru Online School program,” states Arman Wiratmoko, the company’s Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Finance. “In the first 24 hours, more than 1.5 million students accessed our app, surpassing more popular apps such as WhatsApp and TikTok.” A total of seven million students had accessed Ruangguru’s free program by the end of the school year.
Many EdTech companies also witnessed a similar surge in subscribers in the month of March. Language learning platform Duolingo saw a 101 percent increase in global traffic. Seesaw, which allows students to build a digital portfolio of work to share with parents or teachers, increased its reach tenfold within a month of schools shutting down. In China, Koolearn, GSX and Youdao – three pure online after-school tutoring services, each had over 10 million enrolments in free courses during this period.