Digitizing an existing education process is not innovation.
The fact that EdTech is so new as an industry and that education processes and policies can often be antiquated, many entrepreneurs come into the EdTech marketplace looking for ways to digitize existing processes. This is a mistake. The last thing the EdTech marketplace needs is another app that digitizes worksheets or moves attendance and grades “on to the cloud.”
Those examples are a bit extreme on the simplicity side, but the point is that there are lot of antiquated processes in education that could use some modernization. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that is what educators want or need. Digitizing an existing education process is the lazy entrepreneur’s way to become a “me too” EdTech company competing with dozens of others to digitize something the teachers, schools, or district may have no interest or budget in digitizing.
Innovation Improves Teaching and Learning
What educators and administrators do need is innovation. Innovations in education practice using technology. Innovations that make positive changes on education policy through technology. Innovations that let teachers teach more effectively and innovations that improve student outcomes.
Instead of digitizing worksheets, think of ways that allow students to engage with the content in new ways that haven’t been done before. What technology do you have that makes that engagement possible in ways that could not be done before? If you’re bringing your technology into education after successfully disrupting another industry, don’t think you can use your technology in the same manner in education. It seldom works that way.
Get Educators Involved
This is why you need to get educators and researchers involved in your research and development process as early as possible. Many entrepreneurs think that they instinctively know how education works because they’ve all spent years or decades sitting in classrooms. This is the downfall of many an EdTech entrepreneur wannabe.
While the EdTech industry is relatively new, the day of providing simple solutions using technology are over. The education marketplace is interested in education innovation based on solid research, not technological innovation based on success in other industries.
Instead of turning your technology into something the education market may not want or need, find some researchers or thought leaders in education that have solid research on new education methods that could align with your technology. Create something innovative and helpful and new. That is what educators want, and that is what the education marketplace will pay for.