McGraw-Hill and Wipro Technologies recently announced a partnership to develop "mConnect," a new mobile learning platform offering preparation support for university entrance exams and English-language training. Targeted to the rural poor in emerging markets, the product will first be launched in India as an affordable alternative to the traditional test prep materials that many consumers are already accustomed to purchasing. Pearson, the British publishing group, made a similar move last month by investing further in TutorVista, an Indian online tutoring services firm.
The global education industry is the second-largest industry in the world after health care. Economic growth hinges on creating an educated and skilled workforce, which is driving the demand for education technology in developing countries. In recent years, the focus has been on supplying hardware products, such as the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), to younger children in countries such as the Philippines, Costa Rica and India in order to educate them in the use of technology. Now the spike in rural mobile adoption, combined with the growing demand for varied educational content by teenagers and adults in developing countries, is creating a market for mobile education ("mEducation") services as well.
For technology companies, publishers and entrepreneurs seeking to meet the growing mEducation demand, the challenge will be commercializing these new educational products. Organizations would do well to design solutions for scale from the outset, which includes having the right business model and partners in place to support the wide adoption of new educational tools. Adapting content and technologies to local educational structures, as well as tailoring content delivery to multiple device categories (e.g., mobile handsets and laptops), can also enhance the adoption rate. Actionable business and market intelligence on local education needs and business systems can inform the development of go-to-market strategies that help ensure new mEducation services are both relevant and sustainable.