The 8 Most Interesting EdTech Trends Of 2021

Kyle Byers | December 27, 2021

EdTech Trends
Education technology has the opportunity to improve learning outcomes for hundreds of millions of children and adults worldwide.

But what are the biggest trends in edtech for 2021? And what’s coming around the corner?

Read on to find out.

Tech-Enabled Immersive Learning

Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term for augmented reality, virtual reality, or the combination of related technology with the real environment. And it’s one of the biggest edtech trends happening right now. One big reason is cost.

The price of a standalone VR headset is already lower than ever, and expected to drop further to $200 by 2023 (and even lower for mobile-based VR units). Cheaper units means that more schools can use them as a standard part of their curriculum. Separately, the total value of AR in education is expected to reach $5.3 billion by 2023.

But how can these technologies be used to teach?

One way is by enhancing the visual learning process.

Using AR, students can see 3D depictions of dinosaurs, chemical elements, the human body and more. Products like Adobe Aero are making it easy for anyone to build AR objects. While a real expense for many schools, VR can actually be used to save money on physical equipment.

For example, Danish startup Labster provides interactive VR laboratories that STEM students can run experiments with. No million-dollar lab needed. While Google Expeditions lets classes take virtual field trips to places like Mount Everest and the Louvre. And for adults, Interplay Learning lets tradespeople learn skills like HVAC repair and solar panel installation.

VR is also assisting special needs students.

Students with disabilities can use VR to see things they can't physically access. And autistic kids can rehearse scenarios they're likely to encounter in the outside world.

Another type of immersive learning is "makerspaces".

Unrelated to AR and VR, makerspaces are physical areas of a classroom, school, library, or community center that allow students to build things by hand. They can be used for any creative endeavor, like creating books or art. But makerspaces are often used for tech projects.

For example, students are using littleBits kits to learn programming.

Innovative K-12 Homeschooling Startups

Interest in homeschooling in the US has been increasing for years. In fact, homeschoolers currently make up 3.4% of American school-aged children.

And because of the coronavirus pandemic, homeschooling has been an even hotter topic over the past couple of years.

But a lot of homeschooling is still conducted with old-school pen and paper, using workbooks that can be expensive or outdated. So it's no surprise that several edtech startups are stepping in to offer new, tech-enabled homeschooling solutions.

One of these is Prisma.

Offering a blend of in-person and live online learning experiences, Prisma separates the roles of instructor and facilitator/coach.

And promises to unlock learners' potential in the process. Outschool is another interesting edtech startup in the homeschooling space. Outschool works by matching students with teachers for online learning in small groups, conducted live.

A third example is Primer.

This startup wants to build the "full-stack infrastructure" to help parents homeschool their kids, with the hope of bringing homeschooling into the mainstream. The platform includes a tool to help parents navigate local regulations, a learning management system, and a library of curated educational resources.


In 2021, there’s probably no bigger education trend than eLearning.

According to the Research Institute of America, eLearning increases retention rates by 25 to 60 percent. It's also extremely scalable, allowing the best educators to reach many students at the same time (or at different times, in the case of on-demand pre-recorded courses.)

And at a much lower cost than traditional in-person classes. No wonder this industry is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2027. The homeschooling startups we just covered are following the eLearning trend for K-12.

But tools that aren't built for online learning are also being used en masse to teach courses live. An example of this is via Zoom. Additionally, a whole host of service providers have stepped in to serve different segments of this growing sub-industry.

Some colleges have started offering 100% online bachelor’s degrees in recent years. And many others have offered online courses during the pandemic.

So it's safe to assume a good portion of them will continue to offer online learning post-pandemic as well. While Coursera has partnered with scores of universities (including Stanford and Yale) to provide higher education courses and degrees online.
And beyond college, Udemy offers online courses for professionals seeking to improve their skills.

Other major players in the eLearning space include:
  • MasterClass, a subscription service for on-demand courses taught by celebrities.
  • Teachable and Thinkific, course-creation platforms for entrepreneurs.
  • Lessonly, B2B training software.
  • Italki, 1-on-1 language tutoring.
  • DailyBurn, an app for exercise courses.

In K-12 education, the eLearning trend is unlikely to slow down. But it's not without its challenges. According to a survey of IT leaders in the U.S. educational system, only 7% expect their school districts to return to pre-pandemic onsite teaching this fall. However, 87 percent named off-campus internet availability as an urgent issue to resolve to maximize distance learning possibilities.

 Accessible Education

As of 2018, there were 258 million children worldwide not getting an education. Things are improving: that number is down from 378 million in 2000.

But there's still a long way to go when it comes to accessibility. Even in Europe and North America, there are millions of out-of-school children. eLearning promises to help solve this problem. However, there are still barriers.

For example, many schools have doled out Chromebooks to each student. But some of these homes lack internet access. In the US, 86.6% of households have broadband. But in rural areas, the number is much lower.

Device availability is another challenge. Mobile-first learning may be able to help with both of the above. After all, mobile devices are cheaper than laptops. And rather than requiring wifi access, they can rely on mobile data service.

But not everyone can afford a dedicated additional mobile device, or a data plan for it either. So in some cities, local PBS networks are broadcasting lessons on TV for pre-K to 8th graders. While some libraries have offered curbside book deliveries. At the same time, many edtech leaders are calling for the FCC to use its E-Rate program to help bring reliable internet access to homes.

For homeschoolers and underserved communities, free educational resources are also helpful. Open Educational Resources (OER) and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) offer no-cost use of materials and software for educational purposes, enabling students and educators access that would not otherwise be possible.

AI-Enabled Adaptive Learning (And Admin)

Adaptive learning is a high-tech form of personalized education. Thanks to AI, digital learning interfaces can adapt to students' needs in real time, providing the lessons and exercises that are needed to fill in knowledge gaps and reinforce concepts.

All at the level of the individual student. Automated, intelligent tutoring systems have been on the rise for years. In fact, the first "teaching machine" was created in 1924.

But it's only more recently that processing power (both in the cloud and on local devices) has become powerful enough to employ AI for this purpose. Unlocking near-unlimited possibilities for personalized learning.

One example is the AI-powered math tutoring service Thinkster, which promises up to a 90% improvement in math scores for K-8th graders. And in April 2020, Thinkster acquired another AI-based adaptive learning service called SelectQ.

SelectQ applies the technology for SAT test prep tutoring. Adaptive learning is also present in the ROYBI Robot, named one of Time Magazine's best inventions of 2019. The ROYBI Robot uses machine learning to tailor its educational content to the child who's interacting with it, taking the child's learning style and emotions into account. Artificial intelligence is also being used to grade essays in at least 21 U.S. states - though the results aren't always flawless.

AI-enabled chatbots are becoming increasingly common as well.

For example, the chatbot-like Duolingo uses adaptive learning to teach foreign languages. And chatbots like and AdmitHub are being used as higher-ed administrative assistants, helping with anything from the college admissions process to student housing and financial aid. These automated tools can drastically reduce costs for colleges, as the average cost of a call center call is about $5.


Gamification in education is nothing new. For ages, teachers have been offering students prizes for reading books, achieving good grades or otherwise being a good pupil.

But in the digital era, game mechanics can be used in even more ways. In fact, many educational tools are simply games.

Minecraft is probably the most common example.

This "sandbox" style game has been used to create stage performances, write stories, and even teach students about DNA. And with over 100 million monthly players, gaming platform Roblox is now even bigger than Minecraft. It's being used around the world to teach programming and game design. On the other hand, game mechanics are being added to non-games as well.

Socrative offers a "space race" feature that turns quizzes into a competitive game. Knowre brings gaming mechanics (and adaptive learning) to math lessons. And ClassDojo can add points-based gamification to almost any subject.

Google Everything

Google has planted roots in the education system. Thanks to their low cost and ease of use (and maintenance), Chromebooks have become the standard student-learning device.

And there's no more natural pair to Chromebooks than G Suite for Education. This suite of tools includes favorites like Google Docs, Sheets, Gmail and Forms - each of which can be used by faculty or students. (And a free version is available.)

Also included in G Suite for Education are Google Classroom and Google Assignments. Google Classroom offers a digital space for students and teachers to interact, assign and turn in homework, and more.

While Google Assignments is a tool to help teachers create and grade coursework more quickly. Finally, Google also offers their Google Cloud Platform to schools and universities, offering cloud storage and computing power for research and other uses.

Accelerating Investments In EdTech

Global edtech venture capital investments totaled more than $10 billion in 2020, up from $500 million in 2010. Some estimate an additional $87 billion in investment over the next decade. According to EdSurge, from 2014 to 2018 the most well-funded education technology product category in the U.S. was post-secondary education products.

With curriculum products fighting "other" products for second place. Among the well-funded post-secondary edtech companies are CommonBond (which has secured $1.6 billion in funding since 2011) and CampusLogic (which has secured $192.8 million).

However, both are focused on student loans and financial aid services, making them arguably more fintech than edtech. Lambda School is another highly-watched education startup, which again blends edtech with finance. Rather than charging its students outright, it uses income-share agreements (ISAs) to make money based on a portion of its graduates' career earnings.

These Western startups may be exciting, but for now, most of the largest edtech "unicorns" are in Asia. Will the U.S. and Europe pick up the pace? Or will American and European investors put more of their money into foreign ventures? It will be interesting to see which well-funded startups end up shaking up the education sector.

Wrapping Up

There you have it: eight of the most interesting education technology trends of 2021. From AI-powered learning to eLearning and more, for PreK-12 and adult learning. Many of these trends are poised to disrupt the field of education as we know it.

Hopefully for the better.



Treehouse helps companies like Nike, MailChimp, GE and more hire top tech talent and create diverse teams.We believe that education should be accessible to all, which is why we offer affordable online coding courses, projects and programs that bridge the gap between the learner and the employer.


3 Inclusive Classroom Strategies to Use for Higher Student Enrollment

Article | May 21, 2022

In 2021, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported that student enrollments were at an all-time low. Community college enrollment dipped by 11% while post-secondary enrollment saw a dip of 4.2% year-on-year. The impact of the last two years’ events clearly demonstrates the strain faced by all levels of educational institutions. The shift to the virtual classroom setup also saw parents and students recognize the importance of teaching and learning online. The significance of a virtual classroom is emphasized more than ever. It has forced schools to improve their online teaching infrastructure so that they can keep growing. But this has also affected inclusivity. According to UNESCO, school closures during the pandemic affected 1.2 billion children in 186 countries. In this article, we discuss why virtual learning is in dire need of inclusivity and inclusive learning practices. Why Does Inclusive Learning Matter in the Era of Zoom Classes? Edtech is a booming industry. In 2019, edtech investments reached a whopping US $18 billion. Further, the online education market is estimated to cross the $350 billion mark by 2025. There is no doubt that learning institutions are investing heavily in online learning. But inclusivity is still lagging far behind. The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that 25% of secondary school-aged students from underprivileged backgrounds lack a computer. The writing on the wall is clear. Virtual learning is bound to widen the divide, and its impact will be felt most by underprivileged students. For educational institutions, delivering a positively inclusive learning experience online is essential to attracting students who do have access to educational technology. “In the higher education space, most schools were, and still are, predominantly focused on that in-person campus visit to do all those same things, but it’s expensive and it means only students and parents who travel to campus can get that real-life feel and experience.” - Matthew Pellish, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at CampusReel Bringing Personalization to the Virtual Classroom Although virtual learning has stripped away the human touch that accompanies a classroom setting, there are ways to make it more engaging and meaningful. Engage students even before the class starts. This can be done by setting an agenda for the session beforehand and asking students to send in their queries and expectations from the session. Turning the greeting into a short discussion is a great way to engage everyone right off the bat. Tools like Zoom make it simpler to personalize every class with features like backgrounds and notes. Use the chat feature generously. Teaching and learning online has to be a one-sided flow of information for it to be effective. However, the chat feature empowers teachers to break the monotony. The best way to keep students attentive is through personalization. Attentiveness can be achieved by asking many questions, even if they are simply yes-or-no questions. It enables teachers to keep a check on engagement and pivot when needed. Simulating a Sense of Community A discussion on an inclusive learning environment is incomplete without mentioning student community building. Online teaching and learning is limited in its ability to provide a sense of community. Since students are physically separated from their peers, one-on-one connections are lacking. Despite the distance, there are a few solutions you can use to reduce the distance virtually. Identify the type of community you want to develop. Whether you’re offering synchronous or asynchronous courses, it is crucial to keep the student-peer-instructor link active. Create a loop of feedback between teachers and students to enable community building. Modern tools offer a number of ways to seek feedback that provides insight on teaching style and the general classroom environment. Create a classroom forum online. Forums offer the best of two-way interactions with a platform outside of the online class. This ensures constancy and inclusive learning even after the class is over. For those who weren’t able to attend due to technical difficulties or poor connectivity, they never lose track of what’s going on. Cultivating Two-Way Interaction Two-way interactions are an integral part of engaging learning experiences. Inclusive classroom activities online may not completely replace them, but much can be done to build a more involved form of communication. One way to design such activities is to use the Kanevsky and Keighly framework to engage students with the five Cs: choice, challenge, control, complexity, and care. Use screen sharing and remote access tools. Physical classrooms offer avenues for students to present to their peers. In a virtual classroom setting, this can be achieved with screen sharing. Empower students to retain better by making them present their perspective and understanding of different concepts. This gives other students the impetus to do the same. Initiate group discussions through your course management system. Inviting students to design the resources and collaborate on group projects will jumpstart in-depth discussions. Many course management systems allow students to share their notes with each other. This creates inclusive learning environment. Finally: Why Will the Online University Experience Will Attract More Students Although learning institutions are beginning to open up for the in-person learning experience, the effectiveness of a virtual classroom is undeniable. Like remote working, remote learning is gaining ground, and inclusive online teaching is inevitably important. A Cengage survey revealed that 68% of students prefer hybrid learning: a combination of online and offline course delivery. In addition, the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) found that the number of students who enrolled in online-only programs rose from 3.5 million during the fall to 5.8 million. Fostering meaningful, hands-on learning similar to that in a classroom is difficult. Even though student enrollment in online courses is rising, learning institutions are facing the challenge of delivering a highly engaging learning experience. But with an understanding of the learning outcome and the right tools, institutions can develop robust, inclusive classroom activities that every student will want to benefit from. Frequently Asked Questions Do students and teachers prefer online teaching and learning? According to a recent survey by Cengage, about 73% of students prefer some courses to be delivered fully online. In addition, 57% of teachers said they prefer teaching hybrid courses over online-only courses. Is online teaching and learning a growing trend? Yes. Online learning platform Coursera experienced a huge spike in enrollments. In 2021, enrollment increased by 32% and peaked at 189 million. What are the principles of inclusive education? The principles of inclusive education are: Togetherness Participation Acceptance Equality

Read More

Remote Working is Shaping the Future of Schooling

Article | May 11, 2022

For so long, we have deeply embedded technology in our everyday lives. Working and learning from home complement each other, creating an ecosystem of solutions. Even as organizations continue to lean towards remote offices and hybrid working, the same may not be possible with learning. Businesses worldwide have blazed the trail for remote working. The past two years have seen both, formal education, and work taking a big virtual leap. While virtual learning has been around for some time, we have thrust it into the mainstream only because of the events following the pandemic. Remote work is no longer a trend or the domain of freelancers and tech workers. While organizations learned to maintain their productivity even as their workforce was scattered, schools and learning centers weren’t far behind. Schools could shift learning online using the principles and technology businesses were using to stay productive. Working and Learning from Home, Together Zoom classrooms are no match for the physical learning environment provided by a school.Although online education existed as a part-time alternative, traditional schooling has always been a holistic, on-premise experience. Virtual schooling cannot be dismissed, as proven by the last two years. It is especially significant in today’s remote work era and as a precursor to it. While there were mixed feelings about accepting the new normal, families enjoyed several benefits including lowered education costs, zero travel time, children’s safety, and a newfound work-life balance. Virtual schooling has become the norm. It worked only because parents could also stay back and help create a learning environment at home while they worked. They have now become integral to their kids’ learning and growth. “In the higher education space, most schools were, and still are, predominantly focused on that in-person campus visit to do all those same things, but it’s expensive and it means only students and parents who travel to campus can get that real-life feel and experience.” - Matthew Pellish, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at CampusReel Cultivating the Workforce of the Future Virtual learning will provide children with the bandwidth they need to become competent in a world where remote working is the standard. They will have already conquered the learning curve. Remote learning will equip learners with the technical understanding, attitude, and collaborative spirit needed to excel in a technology-driven world. In addition, it will prepare them not just for hybrid workplaces but for a hybrid life that promotes work-life balance. Just as remote work enables easy access to talent worldwide, remote learning will help students access elusive academic programs and high-quality education in a flexible setting. Final Word The future has been transformed forever, and virtual schooling is gaining traction. It also looks set to follow the footsteps of remote working, a concept that is now solidifying in the form of hybrid workplace policies. Higher education institutes are realizing the advantages of virtual learning. They are incorporating a remote angle into their course delivery to make it faster, efficient, and more accessible. Will hybrid learning be the future of schooling? Looking at the course that online learning is set upon, it will.

Read More

How to use an LMS to simulate the publishing process with undergrads

Article | February 11, 2020

As a quick side note, the saying should be “publish in English or perish”, but we will tackle multilingualism in the academic world on a different occasion. While in some contexts the constant pressure to publish may have its disadvantages – the first that comes to mind being that it favors quantity over quality – it is not hard to understand why publishing is so important in the academic world. Publishing your results is essential for the advancement of science. As a researcher, you read what others have done in your field and then you try to identify how you might contribute with a novel approach, a clever solution, or a different idea.

Read More

10 European EdTech startups changing the face of education in 2020

Article | February 10, 2020

Edtech has changed the face of learning and the whole concept what a school is. A decade ago, a university was an old building in the city where you went to get an education – nowadays there are MOOCs available online, with enrollment numbers skyrocketing. Coding used to be reserved for talented IT professionals – now kids learn to code before they even know the alphabet. Virtual reality was a Star Trek-like feature that we only saw in the movies – today it’s a highly efficient classroom tool.

Read More



Treehouse helps companies like Nike, MailChimp, GE and more hire top tech talent and create diverse teams.We believe that education should be accessible to all, which is why we offer affordable online coding courses, projects and programs that bridge the gap between the learner and the employer.