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The Future of EdTech: Collaboration

AVPN : As the sector looks to achieve the SDGs, it has become even clearer that only by working together will they be realized.


Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the AVPN conference in Bangkok that explored this very topic. Entitled “Collaborating for Impact,” the three-day gathering brought together the movers and shakers from the social impact space to discuss the social investment landscape in Asia. The convening highlighted key challenges and opportunities across the spectrum of investment stages, from grants to impact investment and everything in between.

Disruptive Innovations in Education

As CEO of Philanthropy University, I was asked to speak on the panel “Disruptive Innovations in Education” chaired by Aarti Mohan, a Co-Founder at Sattva Media and Consulting Pvt. Ltd, where she heads Knowledge Practice. For two hours we discussed the role of technology and its huge potential in helping solve some of the toughest social challenges.

The global rise of edtech demonstrates its ability to modernize the ways in which knowledge is delivered and disseminated. But what are some of the notable innovations in the education space? How should technology be harnessed to enhance learning experience? How might edtech be used to address some of the biggest social challenges we face? These were some of the questions covered by the panel.

As perhaps predicted, collaboration lay at the heart of many of these answers. As a panel we discussed how technology should be used to complement existing educational systems and teachers, not replace them. Similarly, technology could play a vital role in enhancing the decision-making process for educational leaders through its data analysis power. As such, we might view technology as a helpful catalyst, further advancing and working alongside a system already in place.

The Magic Ingredient: Scale

One of the most consistent (and resonant) topics was that of technology as an enabler for scale. How can we use technology to disrupt the status quo and do more, with less? We wrestle with this question every day at Philanthropy University. Through the power of technology, we have been able to reach 220K learners from 180 countries in just a few years. But this is just the beginning.

Top Takeaways

I was floored by the level of passion and talent at AVPN, as well as by the sheer amount of opportunity for greater coordination among cross-sector capacity builders. There were so many organizations focused on capacity building, with a particular interest in local organizations in the Global South, but few that coordinated with one another. What role might Philanthropy University have in this growing space?

I also noticed a real appetite from the investment community for more efficient, evidence-based capacity-building approaches, something Philanthropy University can certainly provide. Meanwhile, the difficulty of reaching local CSOs in target markets came up as a key challenge for funders time and time again.

While it was useful to better understand the role that Philanthropy University could play in addressing some of the world’s toughest social problems, one thought prevails: collaboration is here to stay. And so at Philanthropy University we look forward to embracing it.

February 28, 2018


Connor is the CEO of Philanthropy U. He is passionate about systems-level change, local social impact and education reform.


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