Audrey and Svenia’s journey to study the ever-changing field of education technology
A student and a former exchange student from HEC Paris will embark on a 5-month world tour to research on EdTech adoption. We met up with these passionate women.
Following two years of literary preparatory classes (khâgne), I arrived at HEC in 2012. During this first gap year before finishing my Master’s and after spending six months interning in Marketing for the FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française) in NYC, I am now working in London, doing business development for the EMEA offices of Traackr, an American start-up that powers influencer marketing programs of major brands. I’ve always been very interested in tech and it is amazing to be able to work on this project from London as I live and work right in the center of what is dubbed the “Silicon Roundabout”, thus benefiting from a great exposure to the amazing startup ecosystem and growing EdTech communities.
After starting my studies at the Freie Universität Berlin in Political Sciences, in a very academic and research oriented structure, I wanted to add another string to my bow with a more practice-based curriculum. I applied for an exchange program at HEC Paris and studied there for a year in 2013-2014. HEC gave me the opportunity to meet extraordinary personalities (students as well as professors) and to find out what I really wanted to do: be an entrepreneur. Mid-2014, I went back to Berlin, Europe’s dream city for startups (Audrey and I can’t seem to agree on this specific point...), and I started working as a business developer for a young lifestyle start-up. One year later, I am still working for them and am now also very close to finishing my degree in politics and deeply committed to creating the Edtech World Tour. Weirdly enough, 24 hours in a day never seem to be enough.
We both have a great interest in teaching and tech - the intersection of both seemed like an obvious area of research, especially given the recent rise of a “French EdTech” that we have been able to study closely for the past year. Education is a large industry with annual spending figures in trillions of dollars, and yet its delivery remains largely traditional in nature. More recently, many EdTech companies have emerged to enrich the teaching and learning experience through hardware and software solutions.
The business of EdTech is booming - but what does disruptive innovation change, and for the benefit of whom? A standardization of curricula across regions and greater broadband penetration make 2015 a pivotal moment for EdTech development and investments. Market sizes and investments levels are expected to grow significantly in the coming years, making this an exciting time to be operating and investing in the EdTech space. However, EdTech does not have equal opportunity of adoption in the world, including lack of broadband internet penetration, barriers to entry due to economies of scale and government education budget cutbacks. Many EdTech products have been developed without input or support from teachers and students: the gap between the realms of education and technologies can be bridged if we learn a bit more about both components.
Sharing common interests
We met at HEC as we were part of the International Students Society (a club that is in charge of welcoming the numerous foreign exchange students on campus through a various range of events throughout the year). From all those great encounters we grew a passion for learning about other cultures and thrilling projects. We also had the opportunity to work together on TEDxHECParis and on the Festival d’Hiver (a student-led international theater festival on campus) where we discovered that we shared a similar work ethic and passion for innovation and actionable market research.
Overall, we are two digitally savvy students, who have held many roles over our student lives which have all been pervaded by positive social impact components. We ascribe to the entrepreneurial spirit and support innovative pursuits: our goal is to continuously refine our frame of reference to comprehensively understand markets and customer needs, and aid the innovation and growth of amazing products. We are passionate about collaboration that includes private, public and nonprofit partners and the relationship between civic innovation and economic development. We also admire programs and projects that focus on the EdTech nexus at all types of stakeholders (higher education institutions, EdTech startups, corporations, nonprofit organizations and public sector agencies)
We’re interested in learning what sort of edtech ecosystem is being built by thinkers and what values it reflects
The EdTech World Tour is a 5-month research project through six countries to research on EdTech adoption around the globe. Our aim is to take into account how different elements of the system interact through dialogue with industry leaders, startups, policy makers, educators and students. To examine learning technology across a differentiated world that can grow to meet the various continent's learning needs of tomorrow and produce open-source resources for EdTech aspiring entrepreneurs and public entities. Above all, we’re interested in learning what sort of EdTech ecosystem is being built by thinkers and what values it reflects.
We will produce a wide range of content, from articles to user interviews and videos for our various corporate or research partners and blogging platforms. You can follow us on twitter to access most of this content as we will be sharing detailed material about each country in an international perspective. We are also building other resources, including an Edtech Index to gather information on the EdTech current states in over 50 countries. Further afield we travel to (where we will refine our indicators and metrics) to assess the maturity of various ecosystems and the programs and institutions in place. In Education, more than in any other area, taking into account a very local component is key.
Finding Inspiration from HEC Paris community
We were both involved in TEDxHECParis, the HEC International Society and Festival d’Hiver (HEC Paris drama festival) and the project management side of things allowed for quick bonds to be formed within the students community. Our partnership was formed as we were both leaving campus to go back to Berlin (Svenia) and set sail for NYC (Audrey). Through various classes and conferences we learned about innovative practices in tech which inspired us even more (Svenia is particularly thinking of the elective course “Le Web, créer, développer, piloter une activité internet” taught by Arthur Saint-Père and Guillaume Heintz, two very inspiring alumni.)
Our year at HEC gave us the framework as well as the network we needed. We found inspiration in the discussions we had with people from different backgrounds, alumni, faculty, and international students. The diversity of backgrounds amongst our friends and classmates inspired us to try and build an understanding of the ecosystems and of all their actors as public policy, investors and educators have an equally important role to play in the process of developing EdTech communities and awareness around the world.
Finally, we're also surrounded by a growing number of aspiring entrepreneurs at HEC: raising awareness for meaningful opportunities in EdTech amongst our classmates is a first step towards contributing to the sector's growth in our native country!
Learn more about the program