When it comes to technology’s education-related potential, it is largely the populations of developing economies who stand to benefit the most. This is certainly the case of Latin America, where the edtech market had a stellar 2012 and is poised to have an even better 2013.
As the region’s economy continues to gain strength, more and more Latin Americans are seeking ways to move up on the socio-economic ladder by way of education. Members of the tech ecosystem are catering this group, providing a variety of ways for individuals to expand their knowledge and acquire new skills.
Here are a few Latin American edtech trends to watch:
With the Olympic Games and World Cup on the horizon, Brazil is in a big hurry to get ready to receive an anticipated influx of tourists – many of whom probably won’t speak Portuguese. And beyond Brazil, Latin Americans recognize that in today’s globalized business world, knowledge of multiple languages is essential. The list of tech companies and platforms looking to meet this language education demand is endless.
One regional leader: OpenEnglish, the Venezuela-born English education startup that closed a $42.9 million investment deal last year. And then there’s Brazil-based Wise Up, which was just acquired in a $445 million deal and is the official language school of the 2014 World Cup. Macmillan Digital Education recently threw its hat into the ring with EnglishUp as well.
The Online-Offline Connection
The online realm is often one of passivity, but when it transfers into the real world, activity is a necessary consequence. New startups are popping up connecting online technology with offline opportunities to help teachers and students get connected.
Take, for example, Easyaula. Based in Brazil, Easyaula is an online marketplace for offline education opportunities, connecting students with teachers and small education institutions. Its platform advertises education opportunities in a limitless amount of areas, from design to marketing, culinary arts, programming and beyond. Chilean Poliglota, on the other hand, is dedicated exclusively to language. The world’s first language education social network, the startup brings together over 35,000 language learners around the world in face-to-face meetups.
Equal access to educational opportunities is a problem everywhere around the globe, and in Latin America, the situation is no different. In light of this, several startups in the region are working to capitalize on the democratizing potential of technology and reach the entire population – not just a lucky few.
Veduca, based out of Brazil, is an online video platform that aggregates and curates educational content from top universities around the world. Its library includes thousands of videos from institutions in Brazil and abroad, and the company has received funding in both 2012 and 2013. Já Entendi, also from Brazil, is designed to prepare high school and pre-university students for the standardized tests required to enter higher institutions of education. Its content has been created to be accessible and enjoyable for students who otherwise may not take the university path.
The capacity of the edtech market to make a real impact on education and society in Latin America is undeniable. It will be up to Latin Americans themselves to take full advantage.