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AR/VR and AI Tech in Education Creating Unique Opportunities for Early Investors

NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage: How and what students learn is always changing, but the landscape has become particularly frantic lately with ubiquitous digital technologies. Digital technologies have changed nearly everything, including the student-school-teacher paradigm from kindergarten to higher education to how and who companies hire. The COVID-19 pandemic, a growing choir of voices calling for educational equality, outlandish tuition costs and even so-called “wokeness” have people and companies rethinking educational dynamics. In the thick of it is the burgeoning educational technology (edtech) industry, which is growing rapidly to meet evolving demand from today’s generation of digitally native learners, as evidenced by both analyst forecast and upstarts such as Nextech AR Solutions Corp. (CSE: NTAR) (OTCQB: NEXCF) (Profile) immediately finding customers for its new digital learning platform. The evolution also spotlights other companies in the space, including Chegg Inc. (NYSE: CHGG), Grand Canyon Education Inc. (NASDAQ: LOPE), Stride Inc. (NYSE: LRN) and Strategic Education Inc. (NASDAQ: STRA) for what they bring to the table to help people of all ages learn and excel.

  • Growing at a 19.9% CAGR through 2028, the global edtech market is forecast to reach $380 billion.
  • Nextech AR Solutions has parlayed its retail technology into its exclusive EdTechX platform.
  • EdTechX has been labeled co-sell ready by Microsoft, a designation that should expedite sales.
  • Ryerson, Nextech were awarded up to $150,000 for the creation, delivery of AR learning experiences.

Edtech: A $380 Billion Industry

The value of compounding interest comes in handy when considering that analysts at Grand View Research estimate that the global education technology market grew from $86 in 2020 billion to $106 billion in 2021. Grand View forecasts a stunning 19.9% compound annual growth through 2028, implying the market size will surge to $379.8 billion in that time. Fueling the growth is the fact that the movement is global, including emerging markets in Africa where tech is providing wider access to learning.

Looking ahead, the future of education involves considering technology here and on the horizon, including things such as virtual reality (“VR”), augmented reality (“AR”) and machine learning (“ML”). AR has already become incredibly useful and popular today, overlaying real word visuals with computer-generated objects in real time. The utility is amazing, as learning becomes interactive and engaging without the user having to be immersed in a computer-generated world. Grand View sees the global AR market growing also exploding; it forecasts a 43.8% compound annual growth rate to $340.2 billion by 2028.

Nextech AR Solutions Corp. (CSE: NTAR) (OTCQB: NEXCF) specializes in developing and operating AR platforms, three-dimensional product visualizations, human holograms and 360° portals. The company was voted a 2019 Top-20 Most Promising AR/VR Tech Solutions by CIO Review, and NTAR calls many Fortune 500 companies clients for an array of applications, such as e-commerce, digital advertising, hybrid virtual events (events held in a digital format blended with in-person attendance) and learning and training experiences.

All told, the company has curated more than 4,100 events for clients that hosted in excess of 10 million visitors. That proven technology undergirded the company’s R&D of a new product to disrupt the higher education market. That’s exactly what seems to be happening with the recent launch of EdTechX, a comprehensive education product combining enterprise-scale video streaming, integrated assessments, AR holograms and data analytics.

Augmented and Remote Learning Just Tip of Iceberg

With its flagship business model, Nextech has already made inroads in the higher education markets. Ryerson University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of South Florida, Université Laval (in Quebec City, Quebec) and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (“UNESCO”) are just a few of the clients already in the company’s portfolio. Of course, they would be natural fits for EdTechX as well, and some have already made the leap, including Ryerson, Carnegie Mellon and Black Student Fund.

The opportunities are only limited to the imagination. Nextech can provide virtual learning labs, digital courses and poster sessions, live demos and collaborations, Q&A sessions, teaching tools, downloadable course content and more. Applications aren’t limited to the classroom either, with homecoming events, convocations and career fairs all available for design.

As demonstrated in this video, Ryerson and Nextech collaborated to incorporate AR and hologram technologies to develop customized virtual labs for different Ryerson science programs. On June 10, Ryerson and Nextech were jointly awarded from eCampusOntario, a provincial-run program, up to $150,000 for the creation and delivery of AR learning experiences for use within post-secondary education institutions.

Don’t Overlook the Microsoft Effect

With the new EdTechX platform being commercialization, Nextech this month launched its LiveX platform on Microsoft Azure. This presents an opportunity for EdTechX to be seen by the more than 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States and give those educational institutions the change to transform traditional learning and events into digital experiences for the more than 19 million students they enroll.

Only days after the launch, EdTechX was deemed by Microsoft to be co-sell ready, an accomplishment with tremendous implications. Co-seller is the upper echelon of Microsoft partners and is reserved only for elite global independent software vendors (“ISVs”), a branding that speaks volumes to the quality of the technology and platform for potential customers. The Microsoft co-seller process includes building demand, sales planning, sharing sales leads, accelerating partner-to-partner empowered selling and delivering marketplace-led commerce.

“Nextech AR Solutions is helping education institutions digitally transform the way educators teach and the way students learn, by enabling remote experiential learning through EdTechX. Studies have shown that these types of immersive technologies improve student engagement and student outcomes,” commented Nancy Teodoro, education partner lead at Microsoft Canada, on the new agreement.

Attracting Clients, CEO Support

It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to recognize the revenue opportunities involving the exploding edtech and AR markets mentioned above. As it happens, though, Nextech is staring at some of the best up-and-coming markets in general when it comes to attracting clients.

Each year, the U.S. Labor Department releases its forecast for expansion and contraction in specific industries. Look at those estimates released in September shows that Nextech AR and digital experience platform services customers represent eight out of the top 10 for fastest-growing industries.

Genuine passion for management is always encouraging for stakeholders to see, but it pales in comparison to a CEO repeatedly laying out money to keep building a position. Nextech CEO Evan Gappelberg wears his optimism about the future of the company on his sleeve for the world to see.

In May, Gappelberg made his seventh purchase of Nextech stock in the last year-and-a-half. This time he exercised warrants for $186,650 worth of stock, putting money in the company’s coffers while increasing his overall holdings to 9.86 million shares. Gappelberg explained his outlook on the company in depth during a recent Nextech presentation at the 2021 LD Micro Invitational.

Getting in Front of the New Way to College

How big is a big enough market opportunity? $100 billion? $500 billion? Fact is that while size is important, it is timing the penetration of the market that generally determines if a company can capture any share. Edtech, AR and other digital learning technologies still have a lot of runway to grow long legs in the coming years. Traditional universities are going to have to learn to adapt, while others are already charting a good course.

Chegg Inc. (NYSE: CHGG), a digital textbook rental service and loose version of an online tutor, is wildly popular among high school and college students the world over. The company’s newest offering, launched this month, is branded Uversity, a platform that facilitates educators and faculty members share things such as notes, videos and practice tests with Chegg members, albeit students or educators.

Grand Canyon Education Inc. (NASDAQ: LOPE) (“GCE”) provides a spate of education services to 26 colleges and universities in the United States, including learning management systems, internal administrations, academic services, counseling services and more. GCE has developed significant technological solutions, infrastructure and operational processes to provide superior services that support the students, faculty and staff of its partner institutions.

Stride Inc. (NYSE: LRN) is a technology-based education company that provides proprietary and third-party online curriculum, software systems, and educational services to facilitate individualized learning for students primarily in kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) in the United States and internationally. A key opinion leader as well, a recent survey conducted by Stride with third-party research provider Qualtrics determined that most parents want more choices and experience for their kids when it comes to education, especially established virtual learning platforms.

Strategic Education Inc. (NASDAQ: STRA) is an education services holding company best known for its for-profit online schools Capella University and Strayer University, as well as non-degree programs schools such as DevMountain, Hackbright Academy, and Sophia Learning. Capella is expanding its degrees while keeping the workload flexible for its students. More than 10,000 students are now part of the FlexPath program, which allows students to move at their own pace but incentivizes them to go quickly through a pay schedule based on time rather than credit hours.

Where education is going next will likely remain fluid, but the standard of most students attending a four-year, on-campus university looks to be shifting. Technology has changed that forever with the potential to earn the same degree via different channels. Companies that are getting in front of the new paradigm, especially those leaning on technology, should prosper going forward.

For more information about Nextech AR Solutions, please visit Nextech AR Solutions.

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