Rise of Teacher Tech 🧑🏫
With rising student population, tech is playing an important part in teacher's daily lives- from managing curriculum, communication & assessments; and exploring entrepreneurship. Let's dig deeper!
Welcome to Old Rope. I write on emerging trends from the East! 🌏 Subscribe to stay updated.
A teacher, instructor or an educator helps students acquire knowledge. We encounter teachers during school, college, and in out-of-school tutoring. A majority of the students are not self-learners; hence a teacher’s role is critical, despite content and study material being widely available. Moreover, teachers also act as doubt solvers for students, including self-learners.
There are ~100M teachers for ~1.7B students across the world 🗺️
It is evident that there are inadequate qualified teachers in most parts of the world, especially Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Due to the nature of the industry (competition), tutoring platforms end up spending more money on sales and marketing than teachers. This is probably not the best argument, but ironical right?
Problems faced by teachers 😫
Inadequate Training [Professional Development 🧑🏫]
Due to limited resources, especially in South-Asia and Africa, 30-50% teachers are not qualified enough. This ultimately translates into inadequate learning outcomes for the students, which coupled with a perpetual shortage of teachers creates a vicious cycle.
Managing Curriculum, Engagement and Assessment [Time ⏱️, Curriculum 📚]
Although it’s not necessarily the teacher’s mandate to create curriculum, but it is important for teachers to organize and plan learning in a manner that ensures high engagement. It’s often time consuming to create simulations, activities, cases studies, etc. as part of lesson plan, alongside managing assessments.
Administration [Time ⏱️]
It is counterintuitive that teachers must spend a lot of time performing admin tasks such as taking attendance, organizing parent-teacher meetings, broadcasting circulars, creating reports of activities, etc. This is counter-productive and takes away time from the teachers’ focus area.
Low Pay [Income Generation 💰]
Teaching, especially in K12, is not a very rewarding job. For example, on an average, a teacher in India gets a salary of $275 per month, whereas a software developer gets a salary of $800 per month [source: Glassdoor]. This further discourages people from considering teaching as a first priority profession.
There are several companies that are working on some of the above problems and have tapped on the opportunity in the following way-
Teacher’s Pay Teachers (TPT) 💰⏱️📚
Founded in 2006, TPT is the largest marketplace in the US for the teachers and by the teachers for exchanging resources like worksheets, assessments, activities, etc. TPT has 5M+ pieces of content with a community of 7M+ educators in K12.
TPT has successfully enabled teachers to share and access each other’s content, which helps save time, maximizes support for students, and enables mutual learning.
It helps teachers monetize the content they have created - top sellers on TPT can make up to a few million dollars per year (Source).
Icing on the cake- Easel: TPT recently launched a teacher tool- Easel, which is a platform for teachers to host interactive live classes and manage assessments. This tool seems to be a good initiative in fostering the teacher community at TPT.
Founded in 2012, Nearpod is a platform for teachers to make their classes interactive. It raised $50M and recently got acquired by Renaissance Learning for $650M. It enables interactive online and offline learning with videos, slides and gamification, along with formative assessment tools. It also has pre-made lessons that can be used by teachers with an option to control customisation.
Nearpod is used in all 50 states in the US across more than 1800 school districts. Globally, the platform is used by over 1M teachers.
Teachers need several tools to build an interactive class and effectively deliver the curriculum. Nearpod acts as a one-stop shop for the same, with deep integrations with other platforms that teachers would usually use, like YouTube, Google Slides, etc. This saves significant time for the teacher, along with better learning outcomes for the students.
Founded in 2011, Remind is a communication platform for teachers, students, and parents. It has raised $60M+ and has 30M MAUs. Teachers can create an account, link it to their respective schools, add the students in their class, and start communicating with students and parents.
Presentation about Remind’s product.
Remind’s platform eases teachers’ lives by reducing the administrative effort needed at their end. This has two fold benefits- it not only saves time but also helps teacher focus on what they are good at- teaching.
Founded in 2014 in Beijing, China, Classin is an enterprise grade platform for teachers for delivering classes in an online format. Classin has built a verticalized zoom for teaching, which is used by individual teachers, EdTech companies and schools for virtual classrooms. It has raised over $265M from top VC funds from China. Due to the EdTech regulations in China, ClassIn’s business focus has shifted towards SEA (Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, etc.)
Classin helps teachers with tools to have an engaging classroom experience virtually with a lot more control with them, compared to zoom. It also reduces administration hassle, giving more time in the teacher’s hand.
Founded in 2015, Quizizz is a freemium formative assessments tool for teachers- making classroom experience interactive and gamified, and providing teachers and students with key insights. Having raised over $47M, it hosts 2M+ teachers on the platform globally.
Quizizz has professionally and user generated content (quizzes), which can be used by teachers to aid their classes, without creating new ones. Even students can use it to practice at their own pace.
Quizizz helps the teachers with an easy to use tool to make formative assessments fun in and outside the classroom. Moreover, there is a plethora of content available for teachers, which helps teachers borrow existing assessments (also created by teachers) on the platform and use it in their classrooms. The content layer has made the platform defensible against other tools, making quizizz a popular platform in teacher community
Founded in 2010, Kajabi is a platform for digital entrepreneurs to create and sell engaging content in the form of online courses or coaching programs. It enables instructors to turn into entrepreneurs by helping them monetize, just how Shopify has been an enabler for brands to sell online. As of October, 2020, Kajabi has reached $60M in ARR and $1B+ in recorded transactions, and raised a whooping $550M+ at $2B+ valuation.
From the above companies, there are few business models which are commonly observed
SAAS for Teachers
Premium or freemium offering for teachers, where the users pay monthly or annually for using the tool/ content.
Platforms that help teachers monetise their content can also charge a take rate from the teachers.
Bottom-Up SAAS for School
As the teachers build profiles on the platforms, they mention the schools in their respective profiles. Once there is a skew from a certain school, the platform can reach out to the school and sell a bundled software offering, integrating with the school’s usual workflow.
T2S (Teacher to Students)
It can be said that the way to a student’s /parent’s heart is through a teacher (teachers are influencers for parents and students). Through teachers, platforms have access to distribute products to students/ parents in a contextual way- given that there are data points about the students which can be leveraged.
Some other exciting companies in teacher tech- Amplify 📚, Teachmint, Hotmart ⏱️💰 and Kahoot ⏱️📚. There seems to be an untapped opportunity in the teacher professional development space, although it could be more operational intensive than most of the software first models.