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The global growth of education technology

On 30 August the ECCT's Education committee hosted a lunch on the subject of education technology featuring guest speaker Peter Sutton, Co-Founder & CEO of Woodpecker Learning (Taiwan).

Education technology is a growing industry with great potential. Significant investments are being made in new platforms aimed at transforming the classroom and adult education. New technology offers the potential for individualization of the learning process, allowing students to learn at their own pace while making more time available for teachers to teach and monitor their students' work much more efficiently.

In recent years, venture capital companies, governments and charitable foundations have been making significant investments in the sector.

Schools are also investing in technology such as providing students with computers or tablets.

Analysts have compared the current stage of education technology development to that of the healthcare sector in the 1970s. In 1970 healthcare accounted for 8% of GDP in the US. Spurred by private sector participation in the sector, by 2015, the percentage had risen to 18%. If education, which currently accounts for 9% of GDP, follows the same growth trajectory, this percentage will rise to 12% by 2025.

Growth in the sector is being driven by a powerful confluence of factors in addition to financial backing, such as ubiquitous internet access, device proliferation, big data, cloud computing and an inflow of talent into the sector.

Sutton's company develops digital tools for language learners who need to consume content designed for native speakers to help them to achieve fluency. The company is seeking to fill a gap in the language market that still mostly caters to children and does not present content in a way useful to language learners. Its suite of applications aggregate content designed for native speakers such as TED Talks, dramas and soap operas. Its proprietary video player lets users view videos using interactive subtitles and intelligent dictionaries. Users can instantaneously receive dictionary definitions and translations of words with the tap of a finger and save them for review, replay a sentence to improve listening skills and repeat difficult content. Its integrated web reader allows users to browse any website from a supported language and translate all available written content instantly.