Will education, technology and business reshape our future?

Technology is disrupting and enhancing the education industry at a rapid pace. Australia’s edtech industry is booming and taking on the world. Hear about the future trends in education driven by technology and startup practices.

Riley is a serial tech entrepreneur, investor and startup advisor. Riley is currently CEO of EduGrowth, Australia’s edtech acceleration network. Riley has founded 5 technology startups over the last 13 years, with 3 successful exits to date. Riley was the local partner of General Assembly Asia Pacific. Through a joint venture with the US-based digital skills education startup, he opened General Assembly in Sydney in 2012, later expanding it to Melbourne, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Riley is passionate about changing lives through education and improving education models through technology.

Conversation notes

  • What are the drivers of change in the education industry?
  • Blockchain technology
  • Online learning space: MOOC’s
  • How will education look in 2025?
  • Unaccredited learning growth
  • Are universities losing their competitive edge?
  • Learning becomes a lifelong journey and courses are taken as needed


“In Australia, we have an amazing platform to become one of the top 3-5 edtech hubs globally. We have a huge education industry. I’m sure most of the folks in here already know this but education is our largest service export industry to the tune of about 21 billion dollars a year. At any one time, there are about 500,000-600,000 international students in the country. There are big dollars there – it’s our biggest export (beyond the stuff that we rip out of the ground). It’s an amazing platform we have. We have 43 high quality, well-established universities in Australia, a relatively good school system and we have some fantastic foundations for the country to make the most of what’s happening in disrupting this space.”


Has the education system changed? Will it?

Until recently, our education system mostly stood apart from the business and technology worlds. Some of us may have gone to kindergarten, most of us went to school until at least year 10, and some then went on to tertiary study. We didn’t interact much with the business world while in the classroom. Those in their 40’s might have used a few computers at school, but they also may have learned to type on a typewriter.

Even now, the education model hasn’t changed much. There is still the ‘one to many’ approach, where teachers present a fixed curriculum at a fixed year level. Computers are being used in schools, but more to support the current structure than to change it. Businesses are also slowly being allowed in to collaborate in some areas and to help prepare students for the workforce, yet our education system is largely the same as it’s been for 100 or more years.

That’s all about to change!

What are the recent developments within the edtech industry?

The emerging edtech industry is bringing technology firmly into the education field, disrupting the processes, and creating exciting new business opportunities.

Riley’s talk focused on the global developments in edtech that are already proving there are many new and effective ways to learn outside traditional models. Education consumers of all ages are demanding change and the edtech industry is rapidly responding in a variety of ways. For example:

  • Baby Boomers currently have a skills shortage as the jobs they’ve been doing have slowly disappeared. They still want to work, but many need retraining in different fields. This can be done through short courses and online learning rather than returning to the classroom.
  • Millennials are now stepping into jobs that involve multidisciplinary teams and collaborative planning, so schools are starting to use these approaches, too. In some cases, businesses are partnering with schools to create learning programs that blend into the world of work.
  • Shared data platforms are emerging in other industries (such as My Health Record, in the Australian health system) but, currently, our accreditation records are owned by individual education institutions. There is a strong need for all such records to be stored securely in a common platform and edtech companies are looking for ways to make this happen.

Does Australia have the foundations to support the edtech industry?

In Australia, education is already our largest service export and Riley believes we have the foundations here already to make Australia one of the top 3 edtech hubs in the world. That means that there are opportunities aplenty for those with an education or technology background or budding entrepreneurs to become part of this dynamic new industry.


Riley’s LinkedIn: Riley Batchelor

Riley’s Twitter: @riley_batchelor

EduGrowth: edugrowth.com.au

EduGrowth’s Twitter: @edugrowthaus

EduGrowth’s Facebook: @EduGrowthAus

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