Thoughts on monetising EdTech and EdContent

Another unexpected topic at EdTechX17, yet very welcomed, was the presentation from Parthenon EY ( that provided some useful case studies and insights into the monetisation of educational content.

See the slides that I found interesting here and my perspectives below:

I guess the start point was the recognition that we are in the second wave of EdTech, where content is proliferated online, but there are low levels of engagement and an almost zero willingness to pay. This raises the question of how to handle the commercialisation of EdTech and EdContent as we enter the era of Adaptive Learning.

Opportunities for Digital Content are likely to be more available in Emerging markets, than in Developed Markets, as they are progressing to focus on Blended Learning and then Adaptive Learning.

However, even in a Developed market such as the US, they expect their use of digital resources to grow over the next 2-3 years, and educators there are more likely to look to content they find on the internet and video than the digital content produced by traditional publishers.

“This downward pressure on the use of printed resources is already resulting in the scramble to put in place sustainable and scalable monetisation models for digital content.”

This trend towards the use of technology and digital resources is set to continue – though it will take time as technology followers and infrastructure catches up.

Khan Academy and the risk of Freemium

The case study regarding the Khan Academy offers caution around a Freemium model – all content is provided free of charge, yet the impact is low levels of engagement and retention of learners. The model does not, therefore, appear to be appropriate for school replacement, only augmentation.  

This does beg the question of how best to add a monetisation layer over a free service that has already achieved a degree of scale …

TES and charging for premium resources

The TES site launched 10 years ago and has built a significant volume of registered users (3.3m+). The audience building was achieved primarily through the use of a Freemium model, which is however augmented with a subscription layer. The subscription fee provides access to premium content. In addition to charging a fee to users of the premium content, TES pays a revenue share to authors of that premium content. This marketplace model appears to have proven a success for TES with 780k pieces of UGC available.

Online enabler model provides access to learning where traditional teaching is prohibitive

An alternative model in use by the likes of Pamoja Education (owned by GEMS), is to provide on-line only courses in topics that a school does not have the skills or resources to provide through their traditional classroom approach. This same model is in use in the ELT market, where access to teachers is cost prohibitive for learners, yet an online-only model is priced at <20% of the cost of class-based tuition and is, therefore, accessible to a broader audience.

The blended model offers the best of both worlds

Providing a proportion of Instructor-led learning in conjunction with technology-delivered learning, solutions are now available which protect the price yet at a lower cost of delivery.


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