4 Trends that will shape EdTech in 2021

Lakshmi Sridhar

With the rapid spread of the pandemic, thousands of schools and millions of teachers globally had to switch to remote classes almost overnight. Along with proving to be a dark horse for investors in 2020 with a whopping 223.2% rise in funding than the previous year (Source: Inc42+), EdTech has also made things easier.

Trends that will shape EdTech, and prepare the ground for a quantum leap in 2021 include

• EdTech startups attracted over $2.2 billion in investments

• The new National Education Policy got approved in July 2020.

• Birth of new EdTech players whereby the number of startups shot above 4500

• New niche segments identified by players to cater to specific needs

• Growth that would have come in a few years got condensed to less than a year thereby boosting acceptance rather quickly

• Hiring in the EdTech sector far outpaced that in most sectors

We recently conducted a short survey on our Linkedin page and asked senior professionals which trend according to them will shape EdTech in 2021. Upto 39% agreed that A.I. and M.L. would be the most impactful trend, while 34% said that learning platforms would define the tides. Let’s take a look at some of the most impactful trends that will shape EdTech for learners in 2021. 

#1 Gamification and Interactive Learning

If we think of our days as children, classroom learning has indeed come a long way.  But Tech needs to be toiled for learning to truly create ripples beyond just becoming ‘online’ in nature. Teachers globally are adopting hybrid models, video-based content and leveraging technology to make online learning more interactive. The use of multidimensional models, graphic calculators, animation and 3D images on smart screens, presented with a touch of gamification makes the classroom much more exciting.

The number of new gamification features available to the learners’ community is increasing rapidly. Hyderabad-based edtech startup EduThrill is already leveraging gamification to deliver tests and assessment tools. Apart from students, the startup is also helping corporates, institutes and job seekers prepare for their next job. 

Although there will be bumps in the road, interactive learning including gamification will be one of the important trends that will shape EdTech.

#2 The Immersive Learning Boom

Source:  We The Talent

Extended reality technologies, including Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR), are quickly becoming popular with students. 

AR is an emerging technology in education that combines modern tech with real-world settings to provide an immersive eLearning experience. In contrast, VR creates a new digital world.

Movie-like fantasies of experiencing the Indus Valley Civilization in 3D will come alive with immersive learning. It will soon be possible for a student to wear a VR headset and take a walk through the digital version of any designed geography. 

#3 Internet of Things

As students interact with connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices and other digital tools, online learning is booming. To cater to the educational requirements of students, the learning experience needs to be personalized and we now have bigger data than ever before. This big data and its analysis is critical to understand what tools can be leveraged.

According to a report by Markets and Markets Research, global IoT in the education market is expected to increase from USD 4.8 billion in 2018 to 11.3 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 18.8%. And India is expected to contribute 20% of the global market value. The same report states that the ‘classroom management segment’ is expected to offer lucrative opportunities in the market. 

Smart boards and attendance metrics have both become widely known and accepted by learners. With IoT, we can help breed more familiarity with the technology between learners and tutors. This will help catalyse the growth of EdTech underpinned by technology.

#4 Big Data and Learning Analytics

The current landscape of learning analytics has expanded, and allows educators to measure and report student learning efficiently.  Some information that can be easily collected at basic levels includes the course’s topic, learner enrolment, learner performance (time per course, completion, test result) and learner feedback.

When teachers read insights from students’ learning processes, they can improve the knowledge and skill acquisition of their learners accordingly. Also, teachers are able to identify what pieces of knowledge weren’t effectively delivered and improve them for future instances. Moreover, learning analytics also helps educators identify blocks of students who may have academic or behavioral challenges. This can equip teachers to develop a way to help students reach their full potential.


The Gig economy has been yet another impactful pivot in accelerating the demand for executive education and higher education. Add to this the rapid growth of Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets which will further fuel a massive growth for all EdTech players in India. According to Talentedge, a leading Higher Education platform, 45% of its learners come from Tier 2/3/4 markets and not from metros. 

With digital learning also proving to be an efficient solution for bridging the teacher skill gap, the future of edtech as a sector holds promise of economic prosperity for India. In our Linkedin survey, we also asked senior professionals about their forecast for the Indian E Learning market. While 26% of our respondents felt that it will take more than 3 years for India to overtake the U.S. in becoming the leading market for E-learning, 24% felt this is achievable by the end of this year with substantial effort. 

Considering the safety of students and the flexibility it provides, the blended learning approach is one of the best choices to ensure uninterrupted teaching and learning.

By leveraging the best of both online educational resources and traditional classroom learning methods, educational institutions can focus on imparting 21st-century education and reaping the benefits of the trends that will shape EdTech in 2021.

Authored by Lakshmi Sridhar | Vice President| Catenon | Linkedin Profile

Lakshmi has over two decades of experience in HR & Executive Search. She actively works with consumer tech and technology clients.

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