Michael E. Spencer: Empowering Ed-tech Companies to Provide Quality Education Worldwide
Michael E. Spencer
Michael E. Spencer

The ed-tech industry is flourishing as digital approaches revolutionize the ways that schools and educational institutions around the world teach their students. Hybrid and blended learning are transforming traditional teaching methods, making learning more accessible, engaging, and student-centric. This new wave of personalized learning is being implemented by inspiring ed-tech companies that aim to empower students to explore subjects at their own pace, fostering a deeper understanding of concepts and providing access to quality education at scale regardless of geographic location.

Michael E. Spencer, CEO/Founder of Global Expansion Strategies (GES), is renowned for facilitating success in this educational landscape. He has more than thirty years of experience in the ed-tech industry. After earning an MBA, his career took an unexpected turn when he co-founded a business producing portable word processors and typing tutors for K-8 students; this attracted customers from educational institutions searching for an affordable, effective way to teach writing composition. Michael quickly realized how much he loved assisting education companies to gain a reputation and build momentum, both nationally and internationally.

He later realized that a paradigm shift was about to occur as online education started to take shape, so he began collaborating with early- and mid-stage ed-tech companies to grow internationally by reaching Ministries of Education, extensive networks of school operators, education franchises, and international education publishers.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. Globally, educational establishments have transitioned to diverse remote, hybrid, and blended learning approaches. Global Expansion Strategies swiftly became the industry leader in helping ed-tech businesses grow internationally. As well as supporting businesses to generate steady, recurring revenue streams, Global Expansion Strategies also help them obtain funding and prepare for profitable exits.

On a Mission to Transform the Educational Landscape

Global Expansion Strategies primarily focuses on AI-powered solutions for customized learning experiences in ESL, social-emotional learning, well-being, safeguarding, core subjects, professional development and career preparation and acceleration. Numerous extensive pilots and school implementations across LATAM, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, India, and the United States are being carried out yearly by GES portfolio companies.

“Academics” vs. “Economies”- Strategies to Overcome Challenges

In Michael’s experience, many ed-tech entrepreneurs are ex-teachers, administrators, and educators who are driven to facilitate the best outcomes for their students and who possess valuable insights about how to improve their learning. Building a product that satisfies educators’ requirements and students’ needs is an essential first step, but there comes a point where “economics” and “academics” collide.

Many early and mid-stage entrepreneurs in the ed-tech space are more concerned with pedagogy than revenue. “Simply put, says Michael, “If you don’t secure scalable and recurring revenue early to fund your product roadmap or ongoing operations, even the most effective classroom tool won’t keep your business afloat.” Too many excellent businesses run out of money before they can make an impact because they get entangled in protracted US sales cycles.

By bringing decades of experience in the field of education and a well-established global reputation, GES can help ed-tech companies overcome this challenge by explaining to founders that an international sales strategy can generate significant scalable revenue months or even years ahead of a domestic strategy alone, without postponing the latter. There is also no need to develop an entirely new product or strategy to sell to international schools. All around the world, educators and students face the same fundamental needs and difficulties.

Michael maintains that the key is to capitalize on the founders’ strengths—that is, to match a market need in education with a solution—and enlist the help of global specialists like GES to assist the founders in areas where they lack experience. For instance, the route taken behind the scenes to close the deal is crucial to successful sales with international schools. New ed-tech solutions won’t take off unless presented in a way the local market requires, just like domestic markets. Founders risk losing time and money if they don’t conduct this kind of due diligence before releasing a product.

Visionary Leadership Strategies

Michael believes that visionary leaders in the education sector are those who can foresee future trends and devise inventive solutions to address the industry’s problems. As an innovative, future-focused leader, he has an instinctive ability to grasp the end goal of an ed-tech solution and understands how to tailor it to suit educational institutions in various geographical contexts using any number of hybrid or blended learning models.

In his words, “You need to know how local schools work and what they require to make those schools fully aware of the benefits of your solution.” Ensuring that the school has appropriate professional development is critical for all stakeholders to implement and manage ed-tech solutions effectively.

An Innovative Venture

Michael approaches his work in a very dynamic way. To ensure the smooth implementation of ed-tech solutions, GES pilots the technologies before introducing them to new large school operators, ministries of education, education franchises, or publishers worldwide. To incorporate that feedback into the platform, they also inquire about the specific features or benefits that the staff sees as aiding the organization to achieve the best possible student outcomes.

To highlight one specific project, a global school operator requested advice from GES about their bilingual program and suggestions to enhance students’ speaking, writing, and reading skills. GES suggested utilizing standalone, AI-based solutions that came packaged within one LMS: one for reading, one for writing, and one for speaking and pronunciation. Middle and high school students across various global regions saw improvements in all three areas in less than a year.

Embracing Technology in Education

For Michael, “Ed-tech promises to enable transformative learning experiences delivered at radically reduced cost and providing equal access to opportunities.” It has been widely known for many years that individualized support, observation, feedback, and high learner accountability have a significant impact on learning outcomes.

The phrase “2 sigma problem” was first used in the 1980s by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom to explain how students who received one-on-one or small-group instruction and frequent feedback outperformed their peers who received traditional classroom instruction.

Until now, the time, expense, and high level of human involvement in delivering these solutions have made it impossible on a large scale. But today, the internet and mobile revolution have significantly decreased the cost of and expanded access to high-quality learning opportunities. For example, Coursera offers free instruction from top professors worldwide, and Duolingo allows users to learn any language on their phone.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.6 billion students switched to remote learning worldwide. There will be no turning back now that the emergency pivot has ended. Hybrid and blended learning are here to stay. As hybrid and blended learning become the primary learning models around the world, the question is what form this will take and who will be in the best position to take the lead and make a transformative impact.

Equality and Inclusivity Among the Teams

Michael is a seasoned leader who effectively promotes diversity and inclusivity in the educational community. With a truly global perspective, Global Expansion Strategies assists both men and women founders worldwide, working in areas of education that complement their core business values and pursuing the same core goal of improving student outcomes and promoting fair access to opportunities for everyone.

Michael offers educators a range of tools to assist them in configuring blended/hybrid models and modifying them to optimize student outcomes. This is done by fostering a culture of innovation and lifelong learning. He empowers his global team to take responsibility for their roles and become more self-directed, with measurable results for all. He regularly communicates with them and ensures that their long-term goals align with GES’s mission to expand the impact of ed-tech companies globally.

Collaboration within the Sector

Michael participates as much as possible in the ed-tech community. He is on the board of and advises several global ed-tech startups, and he takes part in important international thought-leadership conferences and associations to keep his finger on the industry pulse and stay up to date on the newest trends.

He regularly publishes case studies and articles about blended and hybrid learning in the post-pandemic era. He also organizes events where GES invites all parties involved in the education decision-making process to share cutting-edge best practices.

Vision for the Future

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions have demonstrated their ability to act quickly and decisively – and this agility will continue to be necessary. Five days after its launch at the end of November 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT registered over a million users and immediately changed the game. The most pressing concerns in education were assessment and academic integrity.

With the dust now settling, Michael and his team are beginning to see more clearly the opportunities and challenges that generative AI will bring for education in the medium and long run. AI offers great promise for personalization—it can enable different types of learners to make requests in ways that best suit their needs, and it can help educators do their jobs more efficiently.

One of the main tactics for GES is to address the professional development gap for educators, who are often inexperienced, lack confidence, and struggle with digital skills. Ed-tech is changing at an exponential rate, and it can be hard for busy educators to keep up.

This challenge is made more difficult by a global teacher shortage, as 69 million teachers will be needed globally by 2030, combined with the challenge of making sure educators have the time, skills, and confidence to capitalize on the opportunities made possible by technology. GES believes that better self-guided and self-paced professional development is necessary for educators to prevent burnout and to ensure that the massive promise of ed-tech is fully realized for students.

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