From Mexico to China: Why the World Is Interested in the US Edtech Market

Market Trends

From Mexico to China: Why the World Is Interested in the US Edtech Market

By Jenny Abamu     Jun 29, 2017

From Mexico to China: Why the World Is Interested in the US Edtech Market

In the past, experts have made big projections for the global edtech market, with some groups estimating as much as $252 billion pouring into the market by 2020. The United States is expected to lead the charge, followed by countries in Asia and Europe, so it may come as no surprise that people interested in edtech are traveling from all over the world to learn from, sell to and acquire U.S. companies.

Jamie Najera, an administrator at Colegio Nexus School in Monterrey, Mexico, traveled about 300 miles this week to attend the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, where he hoped to find new technologies to support his students.

“We are using iPads for our fourth to ninth grade students, and we are looking for apps and websites for our students to learn [on the devices with],” says Najera.

For Najera, websites on the internet do not provide enough information for educators to make final decisions on technology, so he traveled to the event in San Antonio to see and interact with the tools in person. In addition to shopping for applications, he hopes to build partnerships with companies that can support him and his school throughout the tech implementation process.

“When you have a question or doubts about how to use the application it is not easy to get the support in Mexico because there are no providers near us,” says Najera.

Because of limited edtech providers in Mexico, Najera relies on products from the United States and Spain. He says the tools from Spain have quality content for Spanish speakers, and for English tools, tech providers such as Pearson and Mcgraw Hill have sufficed in the past, but he is looking for more STEM learning tools now.

“I believe with time Mexico will provide more apps, but at this moment on the education field there is not enough,” explains Najera. “You know education is not a big business in Mexico. You can find apps for banking solutions or hotels, but not for education.”

While Najera has come to ISTE to find and procure new edtech products, attendees traveling from China, which has a huge edtech market, came looking to acquire and sell entire companies.

“In China, I think the culture is little different. People are more focused on what is happening after school,” says Limin Chen, a Chinese education writer for Jiemo Media in Beijing who also traveled to the ISTE conference with other Chinese edtech companies.

According to Chen, strict regulations on government funded schools have spurred innovators to focus their attention on after- and private schools—which is big business in China since parents, who mostly only have one child as a result of government policies, invest heavily. The after-school learning centers (such as TAL Education Group) where students study for exams and get extra tutoring, is where Chen focuses most of her coverage. She is following some of the tutoring companies at ISTE, noting that many are seeking partnerships with United States companies. The Chinese firm leaders hope to test the products United States companies develop with Chinese students in their programs.

“They want adaptive learning tools, STEM products and learning management systems,” says Chen. “If you run out-of-school centers you still need these kinds of systems to make the learning efficient.”

One of the products Chinese entrepreneurs hope to sell to U.S. schools is live video applications. Chen says these video platforms are extremely popular in China because parents are willing to pay triple the cost for live interaction over pre-recorded videos.

“Companies with these live online platforms, have come here to see if there are any opportunities,” says Chen. “Their platforms are actually more advanced than many United States companies, so they want to acquire some users.”

She also notes that Chinese money is pouring into United States edtech companies, but instead of just investing in the firms, they want to acquire them. Through her work as a writer, she helps these investors make their decisions. However, she also says she hopes to learn more about broader trends in the edtech market that her audience back in Beijing wants to read about.

“My company sent me here to check out the trends in the United States. I am looking at three trends: assessments that can tell a student's ability and allow you to personalize programs, coding hardware and software, and new types of schools like AltSchool,” says Chen.

When Chen started her work back in 2012, she says people were obsessed with online learning models like Coursera. But now their interest has expanded, with new school models leading the way. She sees China being a leader in the education industry because of the heavy emphasis on education in the culture and because “they have the money.”

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