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The educational technology sector is alive and well in Quebec, but faces certain challenges

Quebec companies in the edtech sector have a detailed knowledge of the education system, present quality resources in French and adapted to the program as well as to the Quebec cultural context. However, they face the conservatism that persists in the school system and remains unknown to teachers. A study takes stock of the situation.

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Quebec has more than 110 organizations in the sector edtech : 72 % of them work in the design of digital solutions and the creation of content. “These digital entrepreneurs are there to have a positive impact in the education sector. They know the Quebec school system well and want to participate in student success, ”says Shawn Young, president of the Edteq Association (Enterprises for the development of educational technologies in Quebec).

The Edteq * Association has made public a study of the educational technology sector in Quebec. This, carried out in collaboration with the Quebec Ministry of the Economy and Innovation, offers a complete portrait of this growing economic sector, by presenting its strengths and challenges. It also gives an overview of global trends.

Unsurprisingly, the study reveals that the majority of educational technology companies are located in Quebec City and Montreal. The sector is made up of a large number of small organizations: more than three-quarters have fewer than 20 employees. More than two-thirds have clients outside Quebec; some even achieve the majority of their turnover there.

In terms of exports, the rest of Canada constitutes the most important clientele of Quebec organizations with 80 % of all sales outside Quebec, followed by Europe with 58 % and the United States with 44 %.

In-depth knowledge of the Quebec school system

Companies in the sector edtech from here can claim to have a detailed knowledge of the education system, to present quality resources in French and adapted to the program as well as to the Quebec cultural context.

Several of their founders are themselves education players looking for technological solutions that can contribute to student success (academic motivation, screening for at-risk students, etc.) or make teachers' lives easier (communication with parents, educational differentiation, etc.). 

They can also count on the technological know-how that is very present in Quebec, particularly in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and big data analysis. The growing need for educational technologies, which has increased tenfold with the pandemic, is also giving them an impetus for growth.

Supply and visibility issues

Nevertheless, these companies face different challenges, starting with the conservatism of certain players in the school system who still pit traditional resources against digital resources. In addition, a lack of knowledge of digital solutions persists among teachers.

“The Quebec market is very complicated: the lack of visibility of companies edtech and resistance from schools are the main obstacles to the growth of the sector, although the recent pandemic has started to change perceptions and behaviors, ”the study reads.

Another issue is the procurement processes in place as those responsible for purchasing in the school system are not the end users. “Access to decision-makers and procurement processes remain complicated, limiting the growth and innovation of Quebec players. "

Big challenge for Edtechs: The procurement processes in place represent another issue as those responsible for purchasing in the school system are not the end users.

Finally, as in many other technological sectors, the American giants quickly managed to occupy a large share of the market to the detriment of local companies. These, by virtue of their small size, generally do not have the necessary resources to respond to government calls for tenders, which operates in a very traditional way.

Global trends

The firm Aviseo, which carried out the study, also drew up a portrait of the sector edtech internationally in order to identify good practices and winning conditions. 

It appears that the most vigorous markets around the world are those that can count on accessibility to trial panels within the local education system, government support and venture capital. These markets can generally count on the presence of incubators or accelerators. The cities of New York, San Francisco and Beijing are those that stand out in this regard on a global scale.

The Scandinavian countries, where companies edtech do a lot of co-development and experimentation directly in schools, also represent an inspiring model, according to the study's authors. 

In addition, the educational technology sector is growing. Even though it represents only 3 % of total education expenditure, it is estimated that it is expected to grow rapidly over the next 5 years. "The North American market for edtech should continue to grow, driven by the adoption of mobile digital devices and by the collective awareness of the benefits of integrating educational technologies into the school system, ”the study said.

Development tracks

The Edteq Association is now making recommendations to contribute more actively to the digital transition of Quebec's education sector. She suggests encouraging the adoption of edtech in schools by the organization of promotional events and training in schools or by the direct allocation to teachers of specific budget for the purchase of educational technologies.

It proposes to structure the ecosystem by setting up an accelerator of educational technology organizations, by strengthening the links between knowledge centers in artificial intelligence and organizations. edtech or by creating a co-creation platform with school service centers and test panels.

Finally, in order to promote educational technologies as effective solutions to tackle specific problems, the Edteq Association brings up the idea of creating working groups for the academic success of boys and for the search for solutions to the difficulties of education. learning exacerbated by the pandemic.

To view the full study.
To (re) read the press release of the Edteq Association

* The École branchée is a member of the Edteq Association.

About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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