If You Really Want to Design Useful Edtech, Start with Students
All instruction begins with students.
Educators call this student-centered learning, and if you’re going to design a useful edtech product, you’ll start with students, too. This design approach isn’t too different from a business model in which you create a product that provides solutions for consumer problems.
Begin at the grassroots level.
Designing useful edtech is a lot less about creating what you like than it is about providing what students need. They need human-centered design, which is an approach that begins with people.
To answer that question, spend time talking to teachers. They’ll tell you what they’d love to see in the classroom. You’ll gain even more insight if you talk to the students. Children are open, honest, and often innovative, especially when it comes to edtech.
Identify the user.
How hard can it be to design for children?
If you think all kids have similar needs, think again. The needs of the early elementary child are nothing like those of students in the intermediate grades. Teachers and administrators are quick to point out that middle school students are unlike students in elementary or in high school.
Useful edtech takes child development into product design consideration.
Follow student-led instructional design.
Educational leadership begins in the classroom – with students.
Today’s teachers are less likely to be a “sage on the stage.” Instead, they are becoming the “guide on the side” as students are stepping up to drive their instructional plans.
Individualized needs have driven curriculum customization. This bespoke approach to education has paved the way for innovative courses as well as personalized pacing.
You can expect that the most useful edtech will keep step to the beat of a different drummer – one that makes his or her own music.
Remember that the competition is real.
Edtech companies must maintain their relevance in today’s fast-paced tech world. That means knowing more than who your market is. You must also know who your competitors are.
It may surprise you to know that the students you’re trying to reach may be out-reaching you. Some students are designing personal education products for enhanced learning, and their edtech products are already in use in their classrooms.
Teachers purposefully select classroom experiences that will help their students learn, but learning is about much more than mastery. Teachers want their students to become lifelong learners far beyond the classroom. Your edtech product can take them there if you remember to begin with the students.