Make sure you’re idea is right for education before developing it for the education market.
It almost goes without saying that an EdTech CEO or other leaders at a new and growing EdTech company need to keep an eye on EdTech trends. But there is a difference between EdTech trends and technology trends in the general public.
VR is Hot, Let’s Use it in Education
Right now, virtual reality is really hot in tech. So are drones. So you may be planning to take over the education world with immersive virtual reality experiences using drone technology to give students an immersive educational experience. Sounds pretty cool, right? Schools and districts will certainly pay top dollar for students to experience a 3-D VR visit to the Pyramids or the volcanoes of Hawaii, right?
Not so fast. This would be a classic mistaken assumption that occurs often in the EdTech industry. This isn’t a bad idea at all, in fact it’s a great idea. But the assumption that schools and districts will be interested in paying for it is a stretch. A smart EdTech founder or CEO who wants to go down this path will do a massive amount of market research before developing VR drone trips around the world to introduce to the education space.
That research will involve talking to a lot of decision-makers in education and asking them if they would be interested in not only the technology, but in finding a way in the budget to pay for it. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but don’t assume they will just because you thought of a really cool, cutting-edge concept. You might find great enthusiasm for the concept, with great pessimism about being able to convince the board to pay for it.
Today, Go Chrome
Fifteen years ago, EdTech generally meant installing software on computers in schools with a fee for each seat license or installation instance. You still have requirements from those days in current education RFPs, asking questions about RAM requirements, operating system compatibility and other questions that don’t really apply to the current trend of SaaS solutions.
Then in 2010, the iPad was released and a lot of companies put great effort into creating apps. I was involved in a very early iPad app for education, and it was risky, but the risk paid off with a couple of statewide contracts. This trend coincided with Race to the Top which helped states pay for the initiatives.
As the RTTT money began to expire (it was a 5-year program) there was a new trend happening in education—the Chromebook. With Chromebooks actually being cheaper than tablets in most cases and the continued maturity of SaaS solutions, district tech directors and superintendents are getting more and more receptive to solutions that live in the cloud.
So, What’s Next in EdTech?
This is a question that any smart EdTech leader has to continually ask. Not what’s next in tech, but what’s next in EdTech. Maybe it’s VR and drones after all. Maybe it’s some kind of technology that has yet to be introduced. Whatever it is going to be, you need to be ready to pivot your work to keep on top of it. Otherwise you’ll find yourself trying to sell software on CDs in a tablet and app world.