Edtech gets out of class and into the home

Parents have become more open to taking their children’s education into their own hands, driving some edtech companies to shift their business strategies.

Homeschooling is growing, with the number of kids in Canada learning at home hitting 67,008 by September 2021 — 65% higher than before the pandemic. Demand for tutors to help students catch up on education lost during the pandemic is also high, another place where edtech companies can step in.

  • Lillio was a software provider for preschools, but rebranded to a suite of early childhood education tools, including virtual modules and curriculums.
     
  • D2L, an edtech giant that offers software for both schools and corporate training, will soon unveil an AI-powered tutor to address COVID learning loss, a key business priority.
     
  • It’s not just parents that facilitate out-of-school learning. Sprig Learning CTO Faud Khan says caregivers and babysitters are eager to pay for its language and math apps, and the company aims to pursue that market.

What they’re saying: Edtech consultant Jason Buccheri says the direct-to-parent market has always existed, but high customer acquisition costs meant few companies pursued it — it’s hard to convince parents to pay for something they think their kids should get at school.

Why it matters: The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association says funding per student is the lowest the province has seen in over 10 years, and school boards across the country expect to run deficits in the upcoming year. That makes it hard for schools to buy extra tech.

  • “Boards are always hard to sell into, but because of budget pressure, they're being even more considerate about what they purchase and its efficacy,” Buccheri says.
  • Many Canadian edtech startups also do business in the U.S., where COVID relief funds that schools previously invested into virtual learning solutions are drying up.

Bottom line: With money from schools harder to come by, edtech companies are chasing the benefits parents in B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan get for homeschooling — between $175 and $800 per student, enough for a subscription to an edtech platform.