2016 Edtech Outlook

by Shauntel Poulson

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since we published our first ReimaginED report. When we first drafted ReimaginED, we set out to expose systemic challenges in our nation’s K-12 education system and to highlight some of the innovative solutions edtech entrepreneurs were developing to address these challenges. In last year’s report, we showcased ways technology could help our school system become an escalator to opportunity for all.

A lot has changed in three years, including our spinout from NewSchools to Reach Capital. Edtech investment has hit an all time high with a variety of new funders entering the space. As the market begins to mature, global edtech brands are emerging with solutions that are improving educational outcomes and serving millions of students, teachers, and families.

Even with these changes, however, a lot remains the same. The escalator to social mobility remains broken with unequal access to quality education. Meeting individual student needs is still a challenge and grows more pressing as children in US public schools are more diverse than ever. Moreover, our education system is not designed to prepare children for the demands of today’s knowledge economy. We’re still stuck in a system that is largely manufacturing-based, which falls short on important skills such as coding, creativity, and synthesis. All these challenges and more have led to increasing demands on teachers as both their role and their responsibilities evolve, with little to no support in the transition.

This year’s publication, rebranded as “Reach Capital 2016 Edtech Outlook”, touches on these persisting challenges, while also highlighting key drivers that make us optimistic about the potential of technology to improve access and opportunity for kids. This year, our publication is not a roundup of everything in K-12 edtech, but rather our perspective on the challenges,opportunities and promising solutions in the space that we find most compelling. If you’re looking for a full report on the state of K-12 edtech, our friends at Edsurge in partnership with AT&T Aspire have recently published a state of edtech report and we encourage you to check it out.

Given our unique vantage point, we also provide a peek “around the corner” into emerging solutions that align with our mission. We continue to see a need for more innovations in critical areas like English Language Learner instruction and Social Emotional Learning. We look forward to finding and supporting talented, mission-driven entrepreneurs innovating in these and other areas that will improve access and opportunity for kids.

Thank you to co-authors Chian Gong, Aditya Kaddu, and Jennifer Wu as well as the entire Reach team for their guidance and feedback.