Dr Tuan Minh Pham, Founder and CEO Topica Edtech Group
Technology has incited huge, disruptive to our lives. From transportation (think Uber or Grab) to healthcare, and from banking (peer-to-peer) to shopping (Amazon), we have come to view the world differently. And the backbone for this change is education. Hence it is not surprising that the next wave of disruption comes would be in the education sector.
At the Edtech Asia Summit 2016 held in Bangkok, thought leaders in edtech shared some deep insights into the explosive growth of edtech in Asia. The 2-day event also brought together policy makers and startups in edtech, and featured speakers such as the Dr Tuan Minh Pham, Founder and CEO of Topica; Sandeep Aneja, Managing Director of Kaizen Private Equity Fund; and key personnel from Udemy, Taamkru, and Quipper.
From the keynote address delivered at the Summit, Pham made this prediction, “Within 10 years, 50 per cent of students will receive their education via online”.
He further added, “According to WCET Distance Education Enrollment Report of 2016, 28 per cent of college students in the US are taking at least one online course, and 61 per cent of students in the 4,800 US universities and colleges are enrolled in full Distance Degree online programmes.
Due to shortage of resources, public universities are most likely to build online education offerings. Comparing to Asia, where there are even scarcer resources available for higher education, online education will provide these solutions, especially in emerging countries. Just in Vietnam, there are more than 100 edtech startups working on innovative solutions, and over 2 million people have enrolled in different paid online learning programmes.
Addressing the concern of quality, Pham stated a survey done by Babson Survey Research Group, it found that 71 per cent of US Chief Academic Officers believed that online education provides similar or superior results than traditional courses.
As more edtech startups become mature, and on the path of continuous growth, Aneja, warned against being complacent. He stressed this point his keynote address, “Stay in the ‘founding years’ mode, use the creativity and passion in getting solutions that will create the critical sustainable differentiation. Another point is to keep experimenting. This keeps the energy level up and allows for retention of talents, as your company will remain fresh.”
Mike Michalec, co-founder and Managing Director of event organiser Edtech Asia, said, “We were pleased to have had the cooperation of Topica Edtech Group, one of the most active and diversified edtech companies in the ASEAN region, for our inaugural event in Bangkok. The event clearly achieved its primary purpose of helping startups, investors, entrepreneurs and other key stakeholders to connect ideas and understand the various markets, trends and opportunities within the regional edtech ecosystem.”
Edtech is definitely here to stay. Given the many opinions and insights shared at expert panellists sessions, attendees were left in no doubt the importance of this sector, how it would be the main driver of growth in the Asia region. The world indeed would become more flat, when the distribution and deliveries of knowledge and information no longer become the domain of the privileged few.
Perhaps this quote by Pham best sums up what the future holds:
“In 5 years, there will be jobs that require knowledge and skills that don’t even exist today. To facilitate the lightning speed in the learning, and knowledge and skills acquisition, online education is the way to go. Within 10 years, online technology will be a ubiquitous part of all learning activities, bridging the global learning platform, and making learning much more effective.”