Collaboration is the only chance for successful EdTech


Dutch EdTech companies are capable of offering real solutions that deserve to be considered by higher education. Unfortunately, educational institutions instead focus too much on the problems caused by big technology companies, without providing enough space for new solutions.

The landscape of educational technologies has grown tremendously in recent years. This growth has been accompanied by many new platforms, apps and LMS technologies, all trying to ‘seduce’ higher education. This enormous growth has made it increasingly difficult to know where to prioritise the use of a particular education technology (EdTech). Although the overall market has grown, the big technology companies continue to dominate the conversation and the ecosystem of technology developments within higher education. They have a major influence on which technologies an educational institution adopts or considers.

New EdTech companies from the Netherlands or Europe find it difficult to enter higher education institutions. These startups – often with fewer than 10 employees – risk time and money to create new solutions to problems they find in educational institutions. But after an initial launch, these companies usually face scepticism about their privacy standards, data management, scalability and even the effectiveness of the tool in the classroom. Educational institutions expect the technologies to meet the same requirements as those of the big technology companies. After all, that is what current policies are designed for.

However, the relevant questions posed to EdTech companies, around privacy and pedagogical added value, for example, can often only be answered by demonstrable use cases, previous data collection, successful experiments and overall reputation; all this is not available to these smaller, start-up companies. With only a fraction of the budget of larger technology companies, startups are forced to convince a conservative mindset.

Instead of exploring opportunities to partner up with EdTech companies from the Netherlands or Europe, we tell them that they cannot meet ‘our needs’ as an institution. To get rid of this situation, EdTech companies need new opportunities to enter institutions. Here, collaboration and co-creation is essential, with companies willing to operate from a shared vision and based on the right public values. A real-life example: the pilot of our Startup in Residence EdTech programme, in which startups and higher education institutions work together on an EdTech issue. Collaboration is the way we, as higher education, are going to get the EdTech offering that will allow us to continue providing future-proof, high-quality education.

Jelle Kok
Jelle Kok

Project leader of the EdTech for Educational Innovation working group

John Walker
John Walker

Project researcher of the EdTech for Educational Innovation working group

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