Don’t jump into EdTech thinking you know what they need. Listen first.
If you’re an EdTech entrepreneur, there is a good chance you’re focused on crunching, manipulating, and presenting data in some form to expose that data to students, teachers and/or administrators is ways they’ve never seen. That is part of the excitement of EdTech, accessing and processing the mountains of data that are generated in education in new and exciting ways. The number of correlations between all these data sets is almost limitless.
Don’t Focus on Technology
And that’s the problem with focusing on the possibilities of technology. Just because the number of correlations or relationship between data sets is almost limitless doesn’t mean educators are interested in having a tool that displays a nearly limitless number of statistics about them. I recently took notice of a tweet by Tom Loud, Ed.S, that said, “One of the best forms of data available to schools, in terms of improvement, are not in the numbers, but in the voices & opinions of kids!”
CEOs and Investors who want to break into the EdTech market need to really think about this. This sentiment, coming from an educator, needs to inform every decision you make in designing the functionality and usability of a new data-driven EdTech tool. You need to listen to educators. You need to listen to administrators. And, you need to listen to students.
Numbers Aren’t Everything
Teaching and learning are, in many ways, quantifiable. Look no further than standardized tests, which will produce quantifiable scores on progress for nearly every student in a given state. But that doesn’t mean that the most important thing educators are looking for in new tools is a way to analyze quantifiable scores and statistics. When an educator wants to know about results, they mean so much more than a number.
Too many tech leaders trying to enter the world of EdTech don’t think about the notion that, first and foremost, teaching is an art. What educators are looking for in technology that aids in teaching are tools that aid in the art of teaching, not necessarily tools that analyze the measurables of teaching and learning.
Talk to Your End Users Early
This is why you need to talk to educators from the beginning, before you start developing your new EdTech product or service. You can’t make assumptions about what will and what won’t work in education based on your experience in other industries. You need to ask educators, administrators and students what they want and what would make their lives easier.
Sometimes listening to the voices and opinions of kids is the first step to EdTech success.