We Need to Put the Ed Back in Edtech
Edtech continues to emerge as a prominent way for teachers to present individualized learning for their students. Schools are spending more money than ever before on new digital tools and platforms that promise better outcomes for students. Unfortunately, some of these programs are focused more on the flashy design than they are on solving real classroom problems. The actual academic component is missing in many of the new programs being implemented in the classroom.
If we are going to continue to espouse the benefits of technology, we need to put the “ed” back in edtech. The programs and tools that educators are using need to present a real value to their students. How can we move forward with better academics in our edtech? Here are a few items emerging edtech companies should keep in mind.
Add teachers to the team early on.
Emerging edtech companies are often founded by engineers who have no education background to support the programs they design. According to expert Jim Lobdell, many companies attempt to find a product-market fit without input from experienced educators. They save their money and resources for engineers who can help with the physical design of the program instead of teachers who could help with the content and presentation. In order to avoid costly revisions and reduce the amount of time to successfully create a product, teachers should be added to the team early on.
Identify real problems in the classroom.
Engineers don’t know what problems exist in the classroom because they have no experience. Oftentimes, they design a program that solves a perceived need that isn’t actually a priority for teachers. According to the research, only 63 percent of students are using technology to solve a problem, conduct research, or work collaboratively. This number falls painfully short of where it could be if edtech focused more on solving classroom problems.
Offer more streamlined solutions.
One of the issues that major edtech companies and teachers are facing is that few platforms offer streamlined services. Teachers might have to visit a dozen different programs to achieve all of their classroom needs. Keith Westman, the founder of the Otus edtech company, notes that the technology has stopped solving problems and started overwhelming teachers. When they have to use a number of programs, it means that student data and relevant information is scattered all over the place. Teachers need to be able to access this information more conveniently. With all of the numbers right at their fingertips, teachers could start to form a more comprehensive look at where students are struggling or excelling in the classroom.
Edtech still holds the potential to revolutionize the classroom, but it has a long way to go. New companies and industry giants need to remember to keep education at the forefront of their new developments. This can help to ease the burden many teachers feel and improve the outcomes for students. It’s time we started looking a little harder at how we can put the ed back in edtech.