Over the past 5 years, SouthEast Asian Edtech industries have received over 480 million in venture capital funding. However, in comparison to other markets in SouthEast Asia. The Edtech industry in Singapore is overall represented by a few players that have gone on to the world stage. There is a small share of the spotlight shared by some of the innovative startups. Edtech is being considered as the new Fintech and is considered as the fastest growing tech portfolio in the world. The demand is largely being driven by Asia Pacific and with Singapore being considered as the Education hub and the gateway to SouthEast Asia, the scenario would change drastically in the next five years. A lot of innovations are expected in the coming five years and the local Singaporean companies are expected to grow into regional or global companies as well. The figures are based on HolonIQ.
Many markets have been looking into the Edtech space even before the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the initiatives taken were meant to tackle shorter term disruptions. The SARS situation prompted the Singapore Ministry of Education to incorporate technology into their mainstream education. This happened a few years before the pandemic really hit upon us. However, there was never really an urgent need to look into how technology could fundamentally change the way we learn. This was from the side of the education system as well as from the consumer side. There was never an opportunity to put to test the less traditional type of learning. Covid-19 coaxed us all into resorting to technology that could facilitate a learning platform for a longer period of time. This shift toward the technology-based learning platforms has occurred collectively from the consumers, the private sectors and the public sectors. Everyone got a certain opportunity to try it out at some level or the other due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We talked to one of the pioneers of the Singaporean Edtech industry to find out more about the education sector in Singapore and how the edtech industry is thriving in the country. Jamie Ang, founder and CEO of Flying Cape, spoke to World Business Outlook about the current education system, the perceptions of the educators, parents and students and the initiatives that could be taken to alleviate stress among the students.
Fusing traditional values with modern practicality
Earlier, the brick and mortar type of educators stayed away from the technology-based platforms but today they are looking into these very same platforms to boost their curriculum. This is why there are a lot of content driven solutions, data analytics and more. It has all come out of a collective seriousness towards strengthening the education system.
This new disruption of Edtech platforms is here to stay. There has been a rise in the cross-border type of learning situation. Learners today have the privilege to choose the teachers or the providers of their choice, be it locally or overseas. It replaces the old word of mouth kind of recommendations for the students with a more analytics based accurate match for the students’ learning ambitions. Flying Cape believes that this new disruption in education is here to stay because of its ability to transcend borders and support personalised learning in a more effective way.
Flying Cape is focused on building solutions for learners of all ages. It currently works with some of the esteemed universities of the world. These universities guide them in delivering the best fit solutions for personalized learning. As a marketplace, Flying Cape aggregates education providers from all over the world. It also includes online, physical, products or services. When a learner comes online and looks through the wide variety of options, Flying Cape provides recommendations that would best fit their needs. It also monitors and tracks the learner’s progress and helps them in their learning path. This is part of their entire process of helping learners to validate and gain insights into their profile and interests.
Talking about the Data Analytic Technology, Jamie explains to us, “When a user enters the learning platform, they get an opportunity to first take a learning diagnostic assessment, which gives them a snapshot of their current learning platform. From there, Flying Cape offers them over 1,000 options from which it seeks the best match. The Data Analytic Technology comes in based on the feedback of the clients about whether the recommendations work out for them. This feedback, using this technology, actually fuels the future recommendations, making it even more effective. The Data Analytic Technology also covers indirect feedback from the learners. The users, while browsing through different learning modules, might not understand the choices they need to make. Based on these browsing activities as well as the learning diagnostics and feedback from courses that were previously recommended, the technology helps in making better recommendations. There is a qualitative and then there is a quantitative measurement in terms of really trying to understand the individual and how they really want to learn what they want to learn.”
Making learning fun for students and educators
When it comes to education, there has always been a discussion about equality and everyone getting a fair chance at succeeding in life. Jamie says that she understands the pressure it takes to really succeed in a very competitive society.
Flying Cape seeks to understand how each learner is different and how we contribute to society in a different way. Jamie further explains, “When it comes to basically understanding the learners, their basic profile, their interests, their passion, it is something that Flying Cape takes very seriously as it works with universities to offer validated data assessments. The range of curriculum that is on offer, not just for the students but also for the adults, is one part of the effort. Flying Cape ensures that they are easily accessible, helps to understand the options available out there and then through a try and validated way of recommending it, you can actually make the final decision based on what fits you, whether it is pricing, timing or the way you want to learn. All these things help a lot in initially taking away the mindset that academic success is the only thing and that making the right choices is essential for making learning enjoyable.”
She further clarifies her efforts as a part of Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) programme, “OSSD lays less emphasis on standardized testing and more on daily progression through project work and discussions. This enables the students who were not able to perform better in one or two of their exams, cope up with others and still be able to get selected in a university of their choice. Flying Cape is looking to add a Singapore pedagogy to this OSSD programme. It has added this programme in China. From a culture and pedagogy perspective, the Singaporean teachers have the experience to bridge the gap and make the shift from more exam-based testing to more group-work, project-style contribution from students for validation.”
Expanding through collaborations
Jamie tells us that for the first three years of operations, Flying Cape has been focussed on getting the fundamentals right. They were focussed on demonstrating value creation and doing it in a very sustainable way. Along the way, they built a strong network of partners on the academic side with the universities and in the distribution channels with various organizations and content providers. They wanted to make sure that as a business they are operationally sound.
When they started with the Series A funding round, they wanted to demonstrate to the potential investors the fundamentals that they had established. They wanted them to believe in the Flying Cape vision of being an intellectual hub for technology and education, which would further boost the confidence in the company to make the right decision and grow faster. With 1.5 million USD received through the series A funding, Jamie aims to expand Flying Cape across South East Asia and China.
Flying Cape has a strong ecosystem of partners. They come in the form of content providers or distribution channels. Jamie explains, “The partners that come onboard these platforms are able to use the tools that help them promote what they do and how they do it. We attract the profiles of specific learners to come in and explore the options out there. We also have direct access to distribution channels like banks, financial institutions, and others that are targeting a certain segment. So for example, the young children segment. Today an education provider that puts up an offering on the platform enjoys viewership in terms of people who are looking for certain courses. At the same time, all this information is sent to the distribution channels of organizations, for instance, the bank. So the bank customers see that there are certain offerings from Flying Cape. This helps them to drive down the marketing cost and the administration cost. Flying Cape wants to make sure that running an education business is as effective as possible, apart from ensuring that the students find the right tutors and they stick with them for a long time.”
Jamie also reveals that for the past 3-4 years, it has been serving many countries in this region including Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines. The communities from these markets have been actively participating in Flying Cape’s online platform and the company hopes to be physically active in these markets in the coming future. It aims to be more connected to these communities through a physical presence.
Excerpts of a zoom interaction between Jamie Ang and Ujal Nair