Martin McKay, Chief Technology Officer of Texthelp Ltd, specialises in the development of technology for English language learners and struggling readers and writers. In this three-part series, he discusses the top seven worldwide trends in educational technology coming soon to a school, college or university near you…
Part 1 of 3
1.) The freemium business model is here to stay
The dynamics of purchasing in the education sector are set to change with the mass adoption of Freemium – a business model in which suppliers of digital content give learners something that is genuinely useful and that they can use every day for free. Sales are secured at a later date when that supplier approaches users, who psychologically have already started to think as customers, with premium ‘value add’ offerings that can be purchased for a fee.
A well-known example is 29-year-old Brian DeChesare, former investment banker and founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street (educational websites aimed at students and entry-level professionals keen to pursue careers in banking and money management). DeChesare built a profitable, seven-figure revenue business with 20,000 customers in less than four years by offering free content including newsletters, expert interviews and case studies along with paid, interactive video courses on everything from financial modelling to job interviewing.
This model has certainly worked for Texthelp too. Over a seven-month period from Sept 2013 to May 2014, we have grown our worldwide customer base for literacy support software Read&Write for Google to 450,000 users – loyal clientele who are now actively purchasing our premium value add-ons. Read&Write for Google provides support when working with documents (Google Docs, PDFs, and ePubs) within Google Drive in Chrome on PCs, Macs, and Chromebooks. Users benefit from access to powerful support features, such as word prediction and fact finder.
The freemium sales model is here to stay and one that is set to feature more and more in the education sector.
2.) BYOAD – Bring Your Own ‘Approved’ Device
BYOD, the practice of allowing learners to use their own computers, smartphones, or other devices for educational purposes, is here to stay as schools and colleges nationwide try to make the most of their small educational budgets by capitalising on consumer investment in technology.
But BYOD as a concept presents IT departments with some significant challenges in terms of security, network management and controlling exactly what that user is doing when in class. At Texthelp we already see many schools and colleges nationwide adopting a slightly revised policy – BYOAD, bring your own ‘approved’ device – such as a Chromebook, Nexus Android tablet or iPad. Often the purchase price of the device is subsidised by the school.