The Ever-Growing Ed-Tech Market

  • 2015-11-16
  • The Atlantic

Every few months, a new study claims that gadgets in the classroom don’t improve learning—but that hasn’t stopped the educational technology market’s steady upward climb.

The ed-tech market totaled $8.38 billion in the 2012-13 academic year, the most recent year the Education Technology Industry Network has such information available. That number is up from $7.9 billion the year before, and up 11.7 percent from 2009, when the network began compiling these annual reports.

The group, which serves as a support for ed-tech developers, places the technology into four categories: content (for example, interactive software that teaches language arts and math), instructional support (testing and productivity tools), management (learning management systems, class-scheduling software), and “special categories” (online courses, as well as tools for niche areas like Advanced Placement materials or special needs).

The network analyzes the data reported by organizations—including nonprofits—that receive revenue by selling ed-tech products to K-12 schools in the United States. One hundred forty-four organizations responded to a survey for the 2012-13 report; researchers then extrapolated that data to quantify the broader market of about 855 companies. From these figures, we can start to grasp how the ed-tech industry has grown over the last several years.

Revenue from online courses for K-12 jumped 320 percent from the year before, in part because the definition of “online course” has expanded. “We used to think of ‘online course’ as a stand-alone offered course like MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), but now companies have really broadened to include any digital curriculum that can even be integrated within the classroom and with face-to-face work,” said Karen Billings, vice president of the Education Technology Industry Network. “This reconceptualization could be a fundamental shift for the K-12 market.”