Virtualisation gets a class of its own

Software in the classroom
Virtualisation in a class of its own

Saradhi Sreegiriraju is responsible for product management and technical marketing at Tintri. Previously, he was a Consultant Product Manager at EMC/Data Domain where he brought innovations such as Data Domain Boost deduplication protocol to market which helped establish Data Domain as the platform of choice for backup storage. Prior to Data Domain, he was at NetApp and Fujitsu in various product management and engineering roles. He has an MBA from Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

Techradar Pro: The edtech industry is one of the largest industries in the world and it is getting bigger. How different is the edtech industry from others?

Saradhi Sreegiriraju: Even though its make-up is different to other industry sectors, digital use in education is three times larger than the media and entertainment industry. We're only at the beginning of opportunities in this market. In the content industries the ratio is 35 percent digital against 65 percent non-digital. In the education market on its own and digital use drops to just 3 percent vs 97 percent non-digital. This shows the huge growth potential available in the education technology (edtech) market. In fact, some commentators have predicted a 15-fold growth in the edtech market over the next decade and the emergence of an unprecedented investment opportunity in the sector.

TRP: What are the biggest challenges for the edtech industry at the moment?

SS:There are a few hurdles to overcome before the European edtech industry can grow substantially. Disruptors and innovators, creating new technologies to serve an increasingly savvy digital audience are widespread. The demand is there and a recognition of technology as a channel to deliver learning is apparent. In fact, Europe has some of the most inventive edtech start-ups in the world.

However, the ability to scale their offering is really the crux of the problem. The market is mostly comprised of small companies, which despite their potential, lack the distribution fire power needed to serve multiple markets. If you look at the K12 market (US primary and secondary education) its make-up is 10 million students across half a million schools. These small EU firms simply can't scale to reach this many people.

The lack of investment is a huge problem for the European edtech industry. If you look at global volumes of EU edtech funding since 2007, the scale of the problem becomes very apparent. Funding levels in the US are 10 times more than those in Europe. Asia is breaking ground too, overtaking Europe significantly in the funding race. However, the volume of students in Western Europe, substantially outweighs those in the US – so there's a real imbalance.

TRP: What are some of the current technology trends in online learning?

SS: In terms of higher education, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have opened the education market . They have caught the public's imagination and disrupted a market that had been under innovated. The business models to create profitable or even self-sustaining organisations have been challenging. MOOCs provide access to education to all – creating demand from consumers for the edtech market.

This year we expect to see a move to "Selective" online courses or SOOCS. Selection will arise through pre-qualification requirements or through memberships to vocational organisations. The selection criteria will provide better learner engagement with the course and a more identifiable need from the user which will allow the course provider to charge more easily for the value added provided.

In the K12 market, there is some disruption happening, which is being replicated in all markets and that is the rise of the connected device and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes. In the school environment, the use of smart phones and tablets is disruptive at several levels. These devices are cheaper than desktop computers and laptops which is appealing for a sector constantly under pressure to cut costs.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.