EdTech News Roundup - Week of 11/29
The apple of 2022's eye, language learning
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This week’s newsletter is light - just a few links with a short amount of commentary. As mentioned before Thanksgiving, I’m gearing up for end-of-year posts over the next two weeks, which will talk about the areas of EdTech that are top-of-mind for me right now + make a few predictions for 2022.
If you have any interest in contributing thoughts for these posts, please respond to this email and we can find time to chat. I’ve already had a few great conversations that pushed my thinking. I hope to have several more before the year is out.
On to the news!
I was hoping to talk about growth in the language learning space in my 2022 predictions, but Chegg appears to have scooped me! There are some fun strategic implications to this acquisition for Chegg, but I want to call out the stat that makes Busuu, and language learning more generally, more broadly relevant: 120M B2C users.
Today’s EdTech world is dominated by companies with strong user acquisition funnels. I’m not sure what the conversion rate of language learners to Chegg’s other services will be, but it is hard to find independent education companies with 100M+ users.
If you read this article alongside the Chronicle’s 2019 report on Columbia’s English department (currently #8 in US News’ ranking of English programs), which placed zero program graduates into tenure-track roles, it is hard not to end up frustrated with the state of graduate education in the US.
Citing better student outcomes throughout the pandemic, Bloomberg believes that this funding can support 150K additional charter students across the US. This is his second major education initiative, following the $3B+ he’s given to John’s Hopkins to, among other things, help get rid of legacy preference. I appreciate the specificity of the problem(s) Bloomberg is attempting to solve by donating.
Sadly, we are going to see a lot more stories about learning loss - when students regress in their academic development over a period of time - over the course of the next 12-24 months. Texas, and other states that implement tutoring programs are going to struggle to find the volume of tutors needed to carry them out effectively. I’m curious if this might turn into an opportunity for the thousands of US-based tutors impacted by the collapse of the private tutoring market in China.
Player development in US basketball is starting to look more like player development in soccer has looked (outside of the US) for decades. Talented players are identified early, placed into training academies for most of their teenage years, and are either cut or, for a lucky few, make it to the pros.
In soccer, the professional clubs build the academies and pay for the costs of player development, including continued education through the equivalent of high school graduation. Historically, the cost of developing basketball players in the US has been placed on parents, in the form of paying for private AAU teams.
The rise of the Overtime Elite basketball league represents a shift towards professional clubs shouldering the burden. The league is not currently affiliated with the NBA, but is recruiting the most talented teenagers in the country and paying them to play in the league.
There are justifiable concerns about the young age at which these players are being monetized (thus sacrificing their college eligibility), but it is healthier for the ecosystem to move the costs of developing players off of parents.