Words of wisdom from our business insurance experts.
When you think about the intersection of technology and education, your first instinct might be to look back at the beige computer labs of the ’90s. However, EdTech no longer relies on outdated desktop workstations. Instead, today’s EdTech programs involve everything from portable, intuitive tablets to cutting-edge robots that can record lectures and take down notes for students when they’re absent.
Of course, these promising technological advancements come with a few risks. Like any other technology company, EdTech businesses could have to deal with anything from hardware and software performance issues to severe data breaches. Here, you’ll find a complete overview of the risks faced by companies in the EdTech industry—and the insurance policies that can help mitigate these threats.
What is EdTech?
The basic concept of education technology is fairly self-explanatory. This industry focuses on using technologically advanced devices in classroom or home settings to keep students engaged and help them learn. Depending on a given institution’s needs and resources, its EdTech strategy could involve:
- Distributing laptops or tablets to students
- Purchasing one or more EdTech robots
- Offering virtual reality learning
- Using machine learning to assist with grading
- Analyzing data on students’ learning strategies
Do you want to learn even more about the world of education technology? Here are some informative statistics about this booming industry:
- The EdTech industry had an estimated value of $254.80 billion in 2021—and that value could hit $605.40 billion by 2027.
- EdTech isn’t exclusive to schools. In fact, the corporate EdTech industry is valued at $22.5 billion.
- College students use EdTech, too. Four out of five students in college said they used EdTech to improve their grades.
- The market for game-based learning targeted at K-12 students could grow by 20 percent annually by 2025.
- According to 87 percent of K-12 teachers, their technology skills improved during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the benefits of EdTech?
EdTech is best known for the positive impact it can have on students. Still, these aren’t the only advantages associated with using these technologies. A robust EdTech strategy can also make life easier for the people working at an educational institution.
EdTech for students
Today’s EdTech tools and programs can help students:
- Stay focused on learning. It’s easy to complain that social media and other technologies reduce children’s attention spans. But when it’s in the right hands, technology can also have the opposite effect. Video chats with classrooms on the other side of the world, assignments submitted in the form of podcasts or videos, and virtual reality field trips can all get students excited about learning.
- Customize their educational experience. Different students learn at different paces, but that can be hard to deal with in a “traditional” educational setting. Since video lectures can be rewound, paused, and rewatched, students can review them as often as needed. Meanwhile, data from EdTech programs can make it easy for teachers to create learning plans with individual students’ strengths and weaknesses in mind.
- Use classroom time in different ways. In the past, students usually spent class time listening to lectures and reading textbooks before working on homework and other projects after school. Educational apps and video lectures allow today’s students to work on projects in class and watch lectures when they get home.
- Learn no matter where they are. These days, all students really need to have is access to a smart device and a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. With that, they can keep up with classes regardless of their physical location. That can reduce the impact of extended absences or even a single sick day.
- Work with their peers. Students can enjoy technologically-powered group problem-solving activities like digital lessons and learning games in the classroom. At home, they can use learning apps to submit their homework and get help from other students.
EdTech for teachers
On the other hand, educational technology can make it simpler for teachers to:
- Manage their classrooms. While children are always challenging to manage, EdTech can help with this task. With today’s leading technology, teachers can send out digital reminders about upcoming assignments and even automatically let students know when the classroom is getting too loud.
- Keep an eye on their students’ study habits. Traditionally, it was all but impossible for teachers to understand how their students studied. After all, they only had access to the end result of this process. But the real-time data EdTech collects can show instructors what their students are doing right and wrong as soon as possible. These systems will even let teachers know if a student shows signs of having a learning disability.
- Grade assignments. Instead of manually grading every assignment they give out, teachers can now rely on AI-based tools to do the heavy lifting for them. These tools are particularly well-suited to grading fill-in-the-blank and true-or-false assignments.
- Use less paper. Managing a classroom has almost always meant spending time and money on paper—until now. With EdTech, classrooms can go paperless, reducing their environmental impact in the process.
What risks do EdTech businesses have?
While EdTech is a promising field that has experienced significant growth in recent years, it also has its share of challenges. Businesses in the EdTech industry face risks related to:
Cyber attacks are perhaps the most apparent threat facing companies in the EdTech space. When schools rely heavily on educational technology, a single ransomware attack could be enough to knock an entire school district offline temporarily. Other cybersecurity-related risks that could affect EdTech users and providers include data breaches and account takeovers.
Even when an EdTech business isn’t dealing with cyber criminals, its employees must work hard to ensure its systems can run as smoothly as possible. After all, a significant portion of EdTech hardware and software is designed for use by children. Because of that, any physical equipment involved in an EdTech program needs to be rugged and durable. Meanwhile, the software side of EdTech systems should be as reliable and stable as possible.
In an industry as competitive as EdTech, companies should always be ready to fight potential infringements on their intellectual property. That could come in the form of violations of a business’ patents, trademarks, or copyrights. Unfortunately, dealing with these issues can seriously affect an EdTech company’s ability to focus on its actual job—potentially contributing to performance issues.
General business exposures
EdTech operations are similar to most businesses as they typically hire people, lease buildings, purchase property, own automobiles, and more. People can be injured and property can get damaged.
What insurance does an EdTech business need?
EdTech companies need to take common-sense precautions to prepare for these risks. That includes getting the right kinds of insurance. Some insurance policies that businesses involved with EdTech can benefit from are:
It’s easy for EdTech companies to be negatively impacted by cyberattacks, phishing scams, and other forms of cybercrime. Cyber liability insurance can help businesses handle the financial impact of these attacks while protecting them from third-party lawsuits dealing with this subject.
Errors and omissions
Also known as professional liability or E&O insurance, errors and omissions policies protect businesses in the event of a lawsuit from a client or third party alleging that their work was subpar. These policies can be relevant if a company misses a deadline, goes over budget, or encounters other oversights that can affect a client.
Intellectual property insurance
Any EdTech company can find that its intellectual property has been infringed on. Intellectual property insurance can help them deal with this unfortunate situation. Beyond that, IP insurance can provide the financial protection EdTech companies need if they are dealing with claims of infringement—whether or not those claims are based in reality.
Directors and officers
In the event of a lawsuit from competing EdTech companies, investors, or shareholders, a business’ officers and directors could find that their personal assets are at risk. Companies need directors and officers insurance to protect those assets in this situation.
It’s wise for EdTech businesses (and other businesses, for that matter) to have a general liability policy in place. This type of insurance is also called “all-risk” insurance—a fitting name, since it can cover any personal/property damage or bodily injury that occurs on company property.
The average EdTech company campus may not be as high-risk as a factory or mine. However, these companies are still responsible for the expenses associated with work-related injuries. A workers’ compensation policy will help to cover these costs.
Technology has long been a part of the learning experience, but EdTech appears to be here to stay in its current form. The advancements included under this umbrella range from “simple” tablets and laptops to sophisticated robots and VR headsets. No matter what a given school’s EdTech strategy looks like, using these technologies the right way can help them seriously enhance the learning experience they offer. At the same time, EdTech can simplify teachers’ jobs.
That said, it’s crucial to recognize that educational technology is far from a risk-free field. If you are responsible for an EdTech company, you’ll need to have a plan to deal with cyberattacks, IP infringement, unsatisfied clients, and everything in between. By investing in cyber liability, errors and omissions, intellectual property, directors and officers, general liability, and workers’ compensation insurance, you’ll be ready to protect your business no matter what happens in the future.
Get in touch with an EdTech insurance advisor today and learn more about coverage, costs, and our process to protect your business.