ASU+GSV 2017: ‘EdTech, it’s time to deliver’

A few weeks after the conference doors closed and the crowd left the high-energy atmosphere of the 2017 ASU+GSV summit, Maria Spies reflects on some key themes that resonated during three intense days of presentations, workshops and constant conversation on the future of education.

As one of world’s largest and most influential EdTech conferences, ASU+GSV is an annual summit for educators, investors, startups and giants in the learning and talent innovation community.

Theme 1: EdTech now has to deliver

For a while, Educational Technology has been both challenged and welcomed in the education industry. Many arguments have been passionately put forward debating its relevance, applications and contribution to teaching and learning, whilst EdTech wowed and dazzled in the background with its bells, whistles and solutions to age-old industry problems. At ASU+GSV this year, however, the mood was different. With the EdTech market maturing, many no longer need convincing of the value it can add to learning; now they’re ready to see some results and are looking for evidence of impact (as demonstrated in this Day 2 session, ‘Evaluating Edtech Today… Not Years From Now‘).

Theme 2: EdTech start-ups are tackling the tricky stuff

With many of the easy targets already scooped up by the big players and earlier technology breakthroughs, new entrants to the EdTech scene are proposing solutions which take on more complex educational challenges. We saw companies like Authess, which uses machine learning to measure higher order competencies like creativity and problem-solving, and ExamPAL, which automates personalised test preparation for MBA program applicants, offering a full refund if your GMAT score doesn’t improve by 70 points.

Theme 3: Learning is social, connected and networked

Adding to the complexity of the new EdTech world is the degree of interconnectedness between students, teachers, institutions and the world of work. Social learning is embedded throughout K-12, higher education and corporate learning, and EdTech is working hard to provide the right tools. Scalable solutions are essential, like the e-discussion community Packback that encourages students to ask curious questions together, or BraveNew which crowdsources knowledge curation.

Theme 4: Re-thinking boundaries between education and work

A whole new stream emerged at the 2017 ASU+GSV summit called ‘Learning and Talent Technology’, again signalling that education is breaking out of old sector definitions. The focus here was on technologies which support not only the development of skills to transition into the workplace, but also throughout our careers and working lives. An example is Squore which is focused on better tests and matches specific skills to ensure candidates and employers get better hiring outcomes.

At a panel session on day 3 – ‘The talent war is over, and everyone lost!’ – a mirror was held up for corporations to reflect on the battle being lost in managing talent. Symptoms include the rise of passive job seekers, high levels of disengagement, and the growing appeal of self-employment and entrepreneurship. Bridging the gaps between learning and the real world – between education and the world of work – was the call to arms on the last day and a rallying point for innovation across the industry.

Mapping out next steps

Navitas Ventures unveiled Landscape 2.0, an open source and community-driven effort to map education innovation and technology companies around the world. Through this massive analysis of 5,000 companies and $40 billion investment, 23 innovation clusters have been identified, which collectively create 8 stages in a ‘next generation learning lifecycle’. These stages represent a new type of learning journey, and one that will shape the future of education.

Want to find out more from those who attended? Register for one of the upcoming Big Picture webinars to discuss insights and views on the implications for our own learners and institutions around the world, and keep an eye out on Yammer for further updates from the summit.