It sometimes takes a crisis to bring change. For years, edtech start-ups and scale-ups tried to convince educators that new technologies could enhance traditional teaching methods; but it wasn’t until the Covid-19 crisis prompted school closures around the world that the profession really began to embrace these new tools.
The experience was transformational and there has been no going back. Research published by GlobalData suggests the educational technology market is set to deliver average growth of 16% a year between 2021 and 2026. Distance-based learning delivered via mass open online courses (Mooc) is just one example of where technology is helping teachers to meet booming demand for education, the market research analyst reports.
One business benefiting from this trend is the American video creation and editing company Screencastify. The business has been focused on the education sector since its 2016 merger with another start-up, LearnCore. Its technology enables teachers to produce video content for their students that can be watched any time and anywhere.
Screencastify’s user numbers rose by 340% during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Vishal Shah, who the company is today unveiling as its new CEO. It found itself helping those users to produce 500% more videos each day than prior to the crisis. And while the pandemic has eased, demand has been maintained.
Shah joined Screencastify as part of the LearnCore deal and has been with the company in one guise or another ever since, most recently serving as interim President. Today’s senior leadership changes also include the appointment of Paul Ray as Chief Technology Officer and Alex Stepien as President and CRO.
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“The company is growing up,” says Shah of the changes. “We’ve grown very rapidly in recent years, and we’ve been catching up on people and process.” The company is profitable, he says, and in a position to grow further if the new management team is able to execute on its vision.
Like other edtech companies, Screencastify believes the pandemic changed the technology landscape in the sector forever. While no-one wants to return to a world in which children learn remotely through online lessons, the experience of many students with innovations such as video lessons has proved very positive.
“The concept of the flipped classroom has become very important in education,” Shah points out. The idea is that face-to-face teaching time is best spent helping students develop through active learning, rather than in giving them information for the first time. Screencastify supports that idea because students can be introduced to new ideas and principles through video content they view at home at a time of their choosing before coming to class.
It’s a principle that can be applied at every stage of education, from early years learning onwards, but also as people move into the world of work and need training or reskilling. “Students can review lessons at any time and then come back to class with ideas and questions,” Shah says.
However, this approach only works if teachers and other educators are able to produce engaging video content in the first place. That’s where Screencastify believes it is well-placed to help. “Educators use our platform because it’s so simple and easy,” Shah argues. “Not everyone feels comfortable creating video, especially for the first time, so our role is to reduce the percentage who feel that way by as much as possible.”
In the US, 70% of school districts are already using Screencastify’s video creation and editing tools in one form or another, but the company also has a huge international platform, having seen users in close to 200 countries worldwide make videos with its technology. The company offers a free model, with license fees for users who want to make larger numbers of videos or longer content.
Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a new phase of growth for the company, Shah insists. “We’re going to double down on education, but we also see the opportunity to expand into new verticals,” he says. That expansion has begun, with increasing work with corporates – particularly around digital learning and training for employees – but Screencastify is also eyeing markets such as gaming and social media, where creators are producing huge amounts of video.
It’s certainly a growing market. The global video editing software market was worth around $1.95 billion in 2021, but this figure is expected to reach $3.2 billion by 2030 according to Straits Research – that’s average annual growth of close to 6%.
“The acceptance and widespread adoption of hybrid learning, as well as the growing usage of video in the classroom and for a variety of training and instructional uses in the workplace means the future is very exciting,” adds Shah.
His challenge is to ensure Screencastify is able to compete in this new world, particularly as big-name rivals active in the sector include the likes of Apple and Adobe. The fact Screencastify is integrated into Google’s Education platform will help in this regard, but Shah believes his tool’s simplicity and easy-to-use interface are its key differentiators. Teachers and others want straightforward tools above all else, he argues, so Screencastify has focused on exactly that.
“We have an opportunity to make video communication simpler and to improve human-to-human interaction in a new era of remote working and living,” Shah adds. “But also one where video plays a greater part in communication at school, at work and in the social lives of young people especially.”