The education sector has been one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic, particularly when governments restricted movements and public gatherings. Schools had to quickly adopt digital modes of learning, and many are still struggling in adjusting, especially in areas with infrastructural challenges.

According to UNESCO, 1.6 billion students were affected by the pandemic globally. However, we are now in the recovery stage.

In this TechNode Global Q&A, Niel Dagondon, Co-Founder and President of Edusuite Inc., shares his insights on EdTech and how what matters is “whether this technology helps solve their problems and make their lives easier.”

A winner at the Startup Awards – EduTech category in the ORIGIN Innovation Awards in 2021, Edusuite is a next-generation School Management System and ERP provider for K-12 schools, Colleges, Universities, Post-Graduate, Vocational Courses, and other Higher Educational levels.

“We offer a unique solution that utilizes advances in Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help schools manage their operations, remotely and efficiently. Our mission is to disrupt the EduTech industry by developing best-in-class software, becoming the market leader, and providing an awesome place to work for emerging talent,” says Dagondon.

Read on for the interview.

What are the trends driving innovation in the Asia Pacific region today, particularly relevant to education and EdTech?

For the Philippines and a lot of emerging markets, the key trend is all about adoption. While EdTech has been around for a good while now, it’s the pandemic that really highlighted the lack of adoption in many schools, which is a big weakness to the Philippines’ education system.

In the last year and a half, more schools in emerging markets have adopted Edtech in the form of Learning Management Systems and School Management Systems than the previous 10 years combined. And now that schools have gotten around to learning the advantages of having tech as a key component in their program, they are looking at new ways to help automate the other pain points all too familiar to their operations using technology.

What are three key challenges that educators, students, and the education sector are facing?

  1. Unreliable internet infrastructure and the lack of devices are still key concerns, especially in the poorer sectors. Some even have to use old smartphones to get their lessons and tasks.
  2. For some countries, face-to-face learning is still limited. A subset of students need physical interaction to achieve effective learning, and learning in the remote setup is not as engaging for some students.
  3. Even with adoption drastically accelerating because of a need during this pandemic, decision-making in schools still takes a long time, making innovation slower. This is especially true in public education, where key decisions and purchasing decisions are made at the government level, sometimes even at the national level. This prevents any grassroots innovation from happening.

What are Edusuite’s strategies in addressing such challenges or enabling your partners to navigate these?

Our company’s ongoing mission is to modernize education in emerging markets. For us, it’s not about the latest and greatest technologies that you can develop or use, but making these technologies user-friendly, understandable, and accessible to educators and school administrators, many of whom didn’t grow up with these technologies. Educators don’t care what AI or Server Technology is being used in your system, but their main focus is whether this technology helps solve their problems and make their lives easier.

What are your bold predictions for the education sector in the medium term? How about the long-term?

Buzz words such as “Flipped Learning” and “Hybrid Learning” have long been discussed in education conventions for the past decades. And we are now truly seeing the mass adoption of these newer learning models as traditional ways of teaching have been deemed less effective in the COVID and post-COVID era.

At this time, schools are making their own strategies, and there is no collection of best practices in education. But we do predict and hope that even the regulating government agencies recognize that permanent change is needed and adopt more innovative learning strategies for the modern interconnected world

Can you share some interesting data or case studies from your portfolio or partners that are a good example of how technology can bring about impactful change amid today’s business environment?

Many students in our client schools occasionally stop to take a leave of absence or transfer from one school to another. This conflicts with the government prescribed curriculum for higher education, where students need to take subjects in a particular semester or trimester. Once they miss a subject, they have to wait for this subject to be offered again next year, even if these subjects are pre-requisite for other subjects.

This domino effect leads to delays in student graduation. Our technology pro-actively predicts what subjects need to be offered by the school and exactly how many sections to open in a certain term so that students can catch up on subjects they have not taken yet. One of our pioneer schools had a 24 percent increase in the subjects taken by students when they adopted Edusuite as their School Management Systems. This means that students are graduating faster, and the school is able to take on more students as well.

For ACKTEC Technologies, microlearning is the most efficient means of delivery for EdTech [ORIGIN Innovation Awards Q&A]