Notes from an Israeli EdTech start-up

EdTech is the combination of ‘Education’ and ‘Technology’. The worldwide EdTech scene is burgeoning as mobile and other technologies are penetrating the institutional and consumer sectors. The Israeli start-up ecosystem has taken note of this revolution in the making, resulting in a growing number of new local EdTech companies. EdTech combines our tradition of holding education at high esteem with the sizzling high-tech culture that Israel has developed.

When you think of ‘education’, it conjures up connotations of institutions and conservatism; when you think of ‘technology’, it is more synonymous with innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. As a start-up, it is important to understand the paradoxical nature of this mashup. An EdTech company must think of how to be the matchmaker that combines these two very different worlds.

The Old and the New

Institutions such as universities and schools are the ‘old’ – establishments that have fostered incredible achievement and advancement, but are often slow to adapt, and paradoxically, the least likely to integrate any type of innovation in their own teaching systems. Technology-aided learning is the ‘new’, with a plethora of knowledge, ideas and contacts at every learner’s fingertips. If at one time you needed to go to school and read books to get an education, now you have the whole repository of human knowledge right in your pocket. And with the availability of online and mobile education, learning is consumed not only by those in classrooms, but by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Mobile Education and Self-Learning

Learning is a challenge. You need to participate in guided courses, or the more courageous can take a self-learning adventure. The Internet and mobile revolution has brought unlimited, unfiltered learning opportunities, leading to a new generation of self-learning tools. These tools have inherited good consumer DNA from the mobile consumer space, and aim to deliver smart methods of individualized learning. All this is happening while institutions are still utilizing practices that served them well for centuries.

Disruption is just on the horizon, and thousands of EdTech startups are racing to take part in the revolution.  

The Effects on Institutional Learning

Teachers and institutional trainers are scrambling to effectively use new learning products that students bring to the class, or that they provide to their learners. Today, innovation in education is not always waiting for school boards, parents, governments, training directives, or board decisions. Learners, already aware that quality educational content is available online, are quickly moving to the mobile. Like any other consumer product, a good mobile learning product provides a good learning user experience that is fun, social, and easy to use.

The classroom is no longer traditional. It is already being infiltrated with consumer web and mobile products that are used by students in schools and colleges, whether the institution likes it or not. Technology is already being brought into the educational systems. So, it is now the turn of EdTech to marry the two worlds of Ed and Tech.

One for All and All for All

In the past, education was a one for all solution – one teacher for all, one method for all, one curriculum for all. EdTech changes that to ‘all for all’. Tech based educational products will provide solutions that can be used by all, given by all, and are never a one-size-fits-all. These new solutions will provide customization like it has never been possible to do before.

Suppose that one student learns visually, while another excels in verbal learning. Today, one of them will not reach his/her potential and probably be frustrated. However, next-generation tools will adapt according to each student’s strengths. Today classes are heterogeneous, but we have been treating them as if they were homogenous. New tools will put the teacher in a guiding role, while the institution can provide learning for every student according to individual interests and passions.

EdTech will Change the World

With the adoption of EdTech, a new type of blended learning emerges that includes mobile tools, endless information sources, community based solutions, games, and the list goes on. Will this not lead to chaos? In a nutshell, no. Technology will do what it does best – handle the repetitive and dry tasks of finding, retrieving and delivering content, grading large amounts of students’ tasks automatically, and providing summary statistics. Teachers will be freed to do what humans do best – feeling, perceiving, and identifying the human qualities in a learner, in order to choose the best customized solution for each.

We are at the beginning of an educational revolution that will change the way people learn for centuries to come. Israeli entrepreneurs have already identified this new wave, and new Israeli EdTech ventures are sprouting up daily. Forget your old notions of education. There is a real thirst for great ideas. Don’t you want to change the world with us?

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About the Author
Eyal is an experienced entrepreneur with expertise in early stage companies and a strong technology background. Currently Eyal serves as a partner, board member and investor at several Hi-Tech companies and as the CEO of SpeakingPal which he co-founded. Before that, Eyal was the co-founder and co-CEO of Omnivee that was successfuly acquired by DvTel. Earlier in his career, Eyal managed a development project at Chromatis Networks, that was acquired by Lucent Technologies. Eyal holds a BA in Computer Science with summa cum laude, and an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
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