In an alphabet soup of laws and guidelines, some help for edtech companies.
GUEST COLUMN | by Dipesh Jain
Global edtech witnessed tremendous growth in two years. With reported revenues of $1.2 trillion in 2021, it will cross $1.5 trillion by 2028 at a CAGR of 4.3%. While the U.S. education market poses exciting growth opportunities, the challenge is to capitalize on these cost-effectively.
Most edtech companies underestimate compliance as a growth driver. Complying with state-laid norms raises the chances of product adoption while avoiding expensive lawsuits in the long term. Edtech compliance in the U.S. means two things:
- regulatory compliance with online learning laws, and
- industry standards compliance for interoperability.
‘Most edtech companies underestimate compliance as a growth driver. Complying with state-laid norms raises the chances of product adoption while avoiding expensive lawsuits in the long term.’
Regulations in the Edtech Sector
Several laws and best practices must be followed when creating and distributing education technology. Additionally, every country and state has its compliance requirements. This makes it crucial to understand the legal landscape before entering any market.
Here are some of these critical laws and guidelines:
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act places parents in control of the privacy of children under 13. This includes practices that website owners must employ to protect children’s privacy. Any edtech tool or product in the U.S. must comply with COPPA.
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act is a U.S. federal law for protecting student education records. Therefore, your offerings must empower schools to keep records, including rostering data, secure and confidential.
The General Data Protection Regulations is a set of regulations for data privacy and protection throughout Europe. It applies to websites that cater to visitors from EU nations, irrespective of the website’s origin.
The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment gives certain rights to parents of students regarding survey participation, the collection and use of PI for marketing, and more related to kids’ privacy.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines ensure content accessibility for various disabilities, including hearing loss, low vision, speech difficulties, and learning and cognitive limitations.
This industry standard pertains to the exchange of test content, scoring/analytics engines, result data, test construction tools, assessment delivery systems, and learning platforms.
LTI allows the interoperability of learning tools from different vendors with the help of a tool inside an application.
TinCan API regarded as the successor to SCORM, records and tracks students’ learning experiences.
These laws will get more stringent over time. The FTC has recently increased its efforts to combat perceived deception and privacy violations, especially by edtech providers. On May 19, 2022, FTC commissioners released a new policy statement indicating that the FTC will aggressively enforce COPPA for school technology.
The challenge is to meet multiple requirements for monitoring and handling student information. Edtech companies can navigate this by choosing a distribution platform with pre-existing compliances.
Ensuring Compliance in New Markets
Prominent technology players are expanding to edtech for the opportunities it presents. E.g., YouTube is licensing “Player for Education,” a stripped-down version of its site tailored for schools. It is also developing “Courses” – a feature allowing video creators to offer online classes for free or a fee.
With increasing competition, how can edtech companies leverage compliance as a USP? One solution is to onboard a distribution platform with its due diligence and compliance ready.
You must comply with COPPA and FERPA guidelines to offer products in the U.S. Evaluate compliance certificates of potential distribution platforms to save time. Pre-set platforms shorten time-to-market by up to 40% without compromising compliance.
Products stand a higher chance of adoption if they integrate easily within an ecosystem. For this, comply with industry standards such as LTI, QTI, SCORM, etc. A ready distribution platform will generally have this sorted. It also eases compatibility across devices and OSs.
To maximize adoption, try to offer an end-to-end solution. Your solution must integrate learning resources, assessments, rostering, and dashboards. In addition, most distribution platforms are equipped to integrate with third-party apps like Google Classroom.
Scalability & Upgrades
Compliance requirements constantly change — requiring many critical updates. Opting for a ready platform means outsourcing these upgrades and maintenance. This will help save time and increase the efficiency of your workforce.
Partnering up for digital compliance benefits growth stage edtech companies — but has its pitfalls. A common one is a mismatch in the user interfaces, which dulls the user experience. So instead, seek a distribution platform that can be customized and rebranded to match yours. This way, you can solve the challenge of managing edtech compliance while offering users a seamless experience.
Dipesh Jain is a Vice President at Magic EdTech, a company that serves global education, publishing, and edtech companies with accessibility services, design, testing, remediation, and certification of learning solutions for accessibility compliance; the company also builds AI, AR, and gamified learning solutions in K-12, higher education, and corporate learning. Connect on LinkedIn.