M-education could be worth €54b by 2020

Mobile is set to play a major role in the future development of education that also spells a potential $70 billion (€52.4 billion) global revenue opportunity for mobile players in the next eight years, according to a new study.
The report from the GSM Association (GSMA) and McKinsey & Company, estimates the mobile education (mEducation) segment will grow at a CAGR of 50% to 55% between 2012 and 2020 in emerging markets in Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, compared to 25% to 30% for developed markets. That growth could help generate up to $70 billion globally for cellcos by 2020, depending on where they position themselves in the value chain, says Ana Tavares Lattibeaudiere, the GSMA’s head of Connected Living.
Tavares Lattibeaudiere says providing connectivity alone for mEducation products and services could generate $4 billion in revenues by 2020, under a number of business-case scenarios.
“You will have B2B scenarios, where an educational institution is purchasing the mEducation solution for their students, and B2C scenarios, where the revenue will come from individual customers,” she told Telecoms Europe.net. “Hybrid models are also possible, such as a school or university paying for basic usage costs, and any additional costs – such as using the device for entertainment purposes – may be paid by the student.”
Meanwhile, enabling an mEducation ecosystem via technical support such as IT, network, content and data management services could generate revenues of $20 billion by the end of the decade.
Tavares Lattibeaudiere says taking the lead as an end-to-end mEducation service provider – which includes products and services such as educational e-books, apps and platforms such as learning management systems and mobile learning environments, as well as devices such as smartphones and tablets – could open up the full $70 billion opportunity, although that route will require cellcos to develop or acquire expertise in the education content business.
The report, which tracks a number of early mEducation trials across various geographies and education segments, highlights more than just financial benefits. It claims mobile tools enable teachers to “teach in a more innovative and personalized way, leading to greater student engagement, higher attendance and improved achievement.”
However, serious barriers remain - many of them rooted in resistance from schools and teachers themselves over concerns ranging from added burdens on IT departments to skepticism of the benefits of allowing students to have smartphones and tablets in class.
The GSMA hopes documentation of tangible benefits of current and future mEducation trials will help overcome such barriers.
Other potential issues are centered on practical implementation – for instance, how educators can ensure that students have access to the same mEducation materials regardless of device capability, which raises issues of bring your own device scenarios in schools.