By: Mike Slovak
Boston has always been known as the center of education in the country, dating back to the opening of Harvard’s doors in 1636 and continuing today with the presence of over 50 colleges and universities in the greater city limits. The city has also been one of the nation’s centers for the development of educational technology, with roughly 200 EdTech startups based in the area and some of the largest publishing houses located here as well. With investments in EdTech tripling in the last decade to $429 million in 2011, the city’s future as a center of EdTech looks bright, as well.
EdTech companies both large and small call Boston home, focused on a number of different sectors in the field. Large companies such as Desire2Learn, a Canadian based company, are basing their stateside operations in the city, and traditional publishing houses such as McGraw Hill have opened R&D labs in the city’s Innovation District. Universities are also at the forefront of this push, with both faculty and students making waves by developing new products that introduce cutting-edge technology into the classroom. For example, Harvard and MIT teamed up to form edX, a non-profit that offers free MOOCs to people across the globe. Startups have gotten into the mix as well, developing cloud-based technologies that allow students to share interactive notes and assignments amongst themselves and with their teachers, creating a new meaning for the term “interactive classroom.”
The massive increase in investments and innovation within one of the oldest industries on the planet is largely a response to the problems that current and former students have identified through their experiences. With the cost of tuition rising at a ridiculous rate, many companies have focused on developing technologies that connect students from across the globe with universities out of their reach. Additionally, the rising cost of textbooks has led both startups and large corporations to develop various eBook-type applications, offering students the same resources at a fraction of the cost. Boston has, and will continue to be, positioned at the forefront of this industry for the foreseeable future, with EdTech definitely being one of the sectors to watch in the area.