Learnings from ASU GSV: Key Trends to Watch in EdTech
08/09/2021

Learnings from ASU GSV: Key Trends to Watch in EdTech

Last month, a couple of LEGO Ventures team members went to San Diego for the 2021 ASU+GSV Summit. This blog explores some highlights and three major themes of the conference.

Last month, a couple of LEGO Ventures team members went to San Diego for the 2021 ASU+GSV Summit, an annual EdTech conference that brings together both investors and founders of education technology companies to discuss the largest issues facing the industry.  

LEGO Ventures hosted two sessions throughout the summit, sharing our investment perspectives and education ambition. The first session on Tuesday, LEGO Ventures: Investing in the future of Learning through Play, explored how LEGO Ventures invests in the future of Education and Digital Play beyond the brick and detailed our Supercharging Education mandate. The second session on Wednesday was a virtual panel, The Shift from Knowledge Acquisition to Competency-Focused Education, moderated by Cecilia Qvist, Head of LEGO Ventures. Panelists included Bo Stjerne Thomsen (Vice-President & Chair of Learning Through Play, LEGO Foundation), and CEOs of our portfolio companies, Neal Shenoy (HOMER) and Ulrik Juul Christensen (Area9). The panel discussed how education is moving beyond knowledge acquisition to a clearer focus on developing the competencies children need to thrive in the 21st Century and considered best practices for developing and assessing creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. 

Cecilia also participated in ASU GSV content and events throughout the summit; as a panelist in the discussion The Path to a Trillion Dollar EdTech Company, a judge in the annual GSV Cup Pitch Competition: The Top Ten, attended the Power of Women Luncheon, meeting some amazing Female CEO’s, Founders, & Partners in the education sector, and had the opportunity to sit down with Alena Analeigh, a remarkable 12-year-old and Founder of The Brown STEM Girl, to discuss her journey ‘From LEGO to NASA’. 

ASU EdTech Panel Cecilia Qvist

ASU GSV Alena Analeigh Brown STEM Girl Cecilia Qvist

As investors, we are always on the lookout for interesting companies driving the future of Learning through Play forward. This process often starts with identifying how a venture aligns with the LEGO® Idea as well as the ability to address key trends in the market. 

ASU GSV is one of the best conferences to meet like-minded people and companies focused on transforming EdTech, and it’s a great venue to get a pulse on trends and emerging themes in the industry. Below are a few of the major themes of the conference:  

Theme 1: The impact of the pandemic on education 

With COVID still impacting education systems worldwide, there was attention to both how we improve next school year, as well as prepare for a future after the pandemic has resided. There was a healthy mix of realism and optimism throughout the conference. Here are some of the great panels which discussed the pandemic’s impact and how to move forward:  

Theme 2: The Creator Educator 

A key to aligning education to passions and interests is helping learners and educators connect with one another. Innovative approaches include giving teachers and informal educators access to tools to create and sell courses directly to their communities and fans. On the learner side, platforms that connect small group cohorts to experience a learning journey together have the potential to increase course completion rates and efficacy. The following panels delved into this: 

Theme 3: DEI Initiatives in Education 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives were present throughout the conference. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted underserved communities, so this was an incredibly important and timely topic to address. Panelists had discussions ranging from identifying and addressing racial bias in technology products, to building antiracist environments in education settings from schools to homes. 

Despite the complexities of a half-virtual, half-live conference, this year’s ASU GSV provided a space for valuable and necessary discussions on the future of education. 

You can find out more about our investment thesis in ‘Supercharging Education’ here.