Image showing Globe, red apple and books

Opinions expressed whether in general or in both on the performance of individual investments and in a wider economic context represent the views of the contributor at the time of preparation.

Education has never been more important. With the near-term outlook for employment highly uncertain, being able to differentiate through better educational attainment matters. Demand for additional EdTech services has therefore taken off in 2020. But just how good are they? Your author is perhaps not the most obvious target-market candidate being in his mid-40s and having kids still at primary school. Nonetheless, in the spirit of endeavour and research – and attracted by the easy cancellation policy – I recently signed up to a month of Chegg Study. Here’s what I learned –

Chegg is a leading direct-to-student learning platform, which has grown primarily through word of mouth. Its platform receives ~15m unique visitors in an average month, attracted presumably by “step-by-step textbook solutions for 9,000 books”, the ability to “ask questions of experts and enthusiasts 24/7” as well as to “search millions of homework answers.” For $14.95/month, this seems almost too good to be true.

The first nasty surprise, however, is that after seeing the above headline price advertised on the Chegg landing page, new users are pushed towards Chegg’s “most popular” option, its Study Pack, priced at $19.95. Admittedly, five more offers are included in this package, including guided videos and an interactive writing tool. If nothing else, it is a great example of upselling, but being a generous sort, I opted for the premium package.

Image showing Chegg Study panel

Once signed in, the range of options available for the student is almost bewildering – in a good way. Want to be linked up to a tutor within five minutes for some dedicated revision, or perhaps test your knowledge with some flashcard questions or a multiple-choice exam? It’s all possible. Similarly, Chegg can help solve tricky maths equations, check essay papers for plagiarism – this piece contains none – or pose questions that are not in its database to remote experts, who promise speedy answers. Subjects from chemistry to computer science are covered.

Image showing Textbook Solutions

In my road-testing, the Chegg system did not seem flummoxed by any of the questions put to it, providing comprehensive answers to everything from what constitutes a Giffin good to what is it like to be a bat (goods people consume more of as the price increases, and a philosophical consideration of the uniqueness of experience, respectively). Sitting a couple of test exams did bring back less than fond memories of school days, and while it was reassuring to see that my knowledge of “how markets work” (a basic economic paper) was still intact, the same could not be said of my skills in chemistry. Fortunately, the latter is not so necessary in this job.

Image showing course panel

The user interface is highly intuitive (even for a non-student such as your author), while the ability to see your learning stats for any given period is a nifty innovation – and presumably a good incentive to keep on using the service too. While it would be hard to know how well the Chegg platform compares with others, the tools available have the clear potential to help improve learning outcomes. The direction of travel for the EdTech sector is clear: less than 3% of total global education spend is currently allocated to online resources (per Barclays Investment Research), but the sector could be worth at least $300bn by 2025.


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