Wednesday, January 30, 2019

EdTech's Influence on the Gig Economy Abroad

While EdTech companies belong to the technology sector - which includes a host of familiar social media, ridesharing, food delivery, and dating apps - they interface with the gig economy in a very different way. As we’ll see, EdTech platforms such as Studypool or Chegg allow more equitable conditions and comfortable arrangements simply due to the nature of the work and the types of existing competitors.

The Hidden Costs of the Gig Economy 

Controversies surrounding the nature of multinational tech corporations seem to dominate the current news cycle amid talks of the continuing trade war and U.S. government shutdown. Tumultuous movements, both politically and economically, find themselves captured at the forefront of public discourse. Let’s quickly recap some events just to put things in perspective.

Just to name a few examples, Huawei’s CFO is currently in Canadian custody due to a U.S. extradition request related to violations of sanctions on Iran, one of Huawei’s sales directors in Poland is being accused of espionage, and many American and European countries are becoming more cautious and distrustful towards implementing Huawei’s 5G technology.

The ridesharing service Uber has found itself banned or challenged in many European countries, often with those European courts ruling that Uber derives an unfair competitive advantage due to its laxer regulations for employees as a tech company.

Further, a significant number of efforts at pushing back the introduction of Uber-like ridesharing services have erupted as protests in Korea. On a basic level, all of this push-back against the entry of ridesharing services relates to how European and Asian countries have stricter definitions on what constitutes work done by an employee and what constitutes a “gig.”

Why EdTech Thrives on the Global Gig Economy 

 EdTech thrives because it leverages the decentralized nature of the Internet to tap into the gig economy. Decentralization has several benefits, with the most immediate being that the needs of users can be matched in the widest possible marketplace: a global one. This is the opposite of the local limitation of technology companies that specialize in ridesharing, as there is no way that someone who’s available to drive in Brussels can meet the demand for a ride of someone in New York.

However, in the same line of logic, EdTech works so well on a global context because someone with a Ph.D. in Math and some free time would definitely be able to help a struggling high school student in New York understand some elementary concept like trigonometry. Furthermore, due to the lack of localization, it is difficult if not impossible to enforce regulations on these sorts of learning sessions, as the student and tutor often reside in very different locations.

Anyways, this dynamic helps drive EdTech to fulfill its general mission more broadly, which is to bring knowledge to different parts of the world in a way that is efficient and enables students to easily access and retain information. One company, Studypool, has made significant efforts to source talent from numerous countries including Argentina, India, Kenya, Russia, and the Philippines.

Studypool’s active efforts at recruiting tutors have allowed it to create a diverse, motivated team of individuals that can address problems from a large set of perspectives. This way, if a student finds an explanation confusing by one tutor, they can switch. In essence, the chance that a student matches with a tutor that fits their learning style and personality greatly increases along with the likelihood of success for their academic outcomes.

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