The Secret to Building Great Ed-Tech Products? Getting Teachers Involved
From as early as calculators and laptops, to as current as SmartBoards and virtual classrooms, ed tech's entire purpose is to serve students in the best way possible. Technology is put in place to make tasks that were once complicated or time-consuming more efficient and effective. The calculator computes calculations that would take much longer by hand. The SmartBoard takes the chalkboard experience and makes it more interactive between teacher and student.
With each ed-tech product that is dreamt up and put into production, there must be some need in the classroom that it's looking to fill. Who would be more qualified to identify these requirements and propose possible ed tech solutions than teachers themselves? They are the ones that spend time in the classroom, day in and day out, trying to help their students succeed. Teachers may not have the specific skills to get a new education app or product off the ground, but they would be the single greatest resource in creating the concepts.
The next great ed-tech app or product could be birthed by simply sitting down with a veteran teacher and asking the question, "What is your classroom's biggest need?" That question alone will begin a brainstorming process that could change the landscape of not just their classroom, but all classrooms.
Ed-tech companies and startups may have the brainpower to bring it from idea to product, but they can't bring the factual educational knowledge to the table that a teacher can. It would be in their best interest to partner with a teacher, a school, or a district to create a pool of ideas, then use that to move forward. Having a teacher as a consultant throughout their creation of the product could greatly determine their success or failure in the market. With each significant step of the process, getting feedback can steer their process in the right direction.
Aside from the creation of a product, ed tech companies also need to keep in mind who is going to decide whether their products to succeed or fail: teachers. At the end of the day, these companies are making products, apps, and gadgets in hopes that teachers will use them to help their students excel each day. If an ed tech company thinks that they can create a product for teachers to use, without consulting a teacher on whether or not it's a good idea, they're taking an enormous gamble on the success of their creation.
Teachers and ed-tech companies need to work together to create the products that will create permanent change in classrooms across the globe. Teachers need ed-tech companies to build great products to serve their students more effectively. Ed-tech companies need schools and teachers to buy into their creations so that they can find a successful home for their products. It needs to be a two-way street of communication and production. The authentic insight a teacher can provide, paired with the manpower and brainpower and edtech company can bring to the table, the world of education could be changed massively and for the better.
Imagine when the calculator was introduced into the classroom. A multiplication or division problem that used to take a few minutes to compute now only took seconds. This increased efficiency then opened up more time in the day to learn about larger, more complex math concepts. It minimized trivial calculations and gave teachers more time to focus on the big picture.
With each new product that ed-tech companies come up with, that should be the goal. It needs to be a product that not only makes learning more efficient but creates more space for bigger and better things.
Who are the most qualified individuals to think up these products? Teachers. The more they are a part of the production process the better served the educational community will be.