If you’re not in the education field, you may feel confused or have an entirely different perspective from students and educators. Based on my previous product design experience, this article outlines the considerations of schools and students on this topic to help you build better EdTech products.
First of all, we must understand the audience for EdTech products is not only students but also schools, teachers or parents, who are the purchase decision makers.
Does the product reduce or increase the burden on teachers?
Most ICT teachers have information technology qualifications. Yet, they need to take additional courses regularly to keep up with technology advancements and curriculum changes. If the product is troublesome for teachers, then they are unlikely to try.
What do schools think about STEM or interdisciplinary programmes?
Teachers are more open to STEM or interdisciplinary programmes nowadays. However, there are still concerns about the division of labour among teachers of different subjects and how the new curriculum could integrate with regular subjects.
In addition to the core product, can you provide supporting services for schools?
Schools are concerned about lowering teaching and operating costs. Providing maintenance or technical support, consultation, replacing multiple suppliers, or any peripheral services will make the product commercially more viable.
Is the product suitable for competitions? Any organisations or schools recommending or using the product?
In addition to commercial incentives, schools also value reputation. Some encourage students to participate in competitions, organise public events on their own or collaborate with well-known partners. You can also host competitions for the product on campus or market it with other partners to enhance its competitiveness.
How well do you know about the new generation?
Technology is ever-changing, and so is education. Kindergarten kids don’t know what a keyboard is. Still, elementary school students are already learning inputs, outputs or conversion of computer units, so technical proficiency varies considerably according to one’s age and learning experience. To design products for students, you must first understand what they are learning.
Are the interaction and graphic style suitable for the age of the learners?
Do you know toddlers are visually more critical than designers? Kindergarten kids are keenly aware of the content that is suitable for their age. They can distinguish content for nursery and upper-class kids and exhibit less interest in the content that seems naive or too mature. Designers should spend time figuring out the suitable graphic styles and interactions for specific age groups.
How does the curriculum cultivate students’ soft and hard skills?
Hong Kong’s curricula tend to emphasise hard skills training. Still, the current trend is cultivating students’ soft skills and preparing for future changes. For example, through project-based learning or understanding technology applications to train students in collaboration, design thinking and problem-solving, these skills can be transferred to various workplaces.
Is the product delivered in a regular or after-school class?
Lesson delivery also has a significant impact on the curriculum structure. Combining with regular classes can ensure profitability, but the curriculum needs to meet the requirements of the Education Bureau or schools. After-school classes indicate that students may be more motivated. The curriculum, instructors or resources could be more flexible than regular classes.
How can learning, particularly complex concepts, be engaging?
Text-based learning instils a large amount of knowledge in learners but generates less interest and motivation in youngsters. I believe that interaction is crucial to effective communication. Education will be more approachable and attractive if knowledge is presented in bite-sized chunks and includes more hands-on activities.
How does self-learning affect students and teachers?
Many courses are too intense for beginners without a teacher’s guidance. If the teaching burden can be reduced while encouraging self-learning, it will be the best of both worlds. A low-guided self-learning programme enables students to study independently with minimal teacher guidance. The premise is that the courseware is complete, and the curriculum can be self-learned.
What do learning reports mean to students?
Schools and parents in HK value reports to measure students’ learning outcomes, identify learning issues and prove their abilities to others. In addition to electronic reports to teachers (detailed and comparable) and students (summarised and visualised), issuing certificates and awards are essential as compliments and demonstrations of student’s learning profile and abilities.
Do programmes have to be taught by school teachers?
Have you ever thought third parties could teach classes at schools? Suppose the course does not have strict qualification criteria. In that case, another option is to have trained instructors from internal or external partners to teach at schools. Sometimes, you can get feedback from them and adjust your teaching faster than school teachers.
How do user flow and learning tool affect learning?
Scattered learning mediums make teaching and learning inefficient. Self-learning platforms are popular because they unify text-based learning and assignments into one without requiring learners to access multiple applications. When designing new products, try to make students finish the learning process in the same place.
What hardware or environmental constraints does the school face?
Although it is technology education, not every school has suitable hardware. Some schools have outdated hardware; some have privacy concerns with cloud services. In contrast, some have weak internet connectivity in classrooms. It’s critical to market a particular type of school! Nonetheless, think twice before catering for individual requirements anyway.
These are some of my key lessons in my few years of designing educational products. The reality is undoubtedly more complicated since it’s a B2B product for schools. The interests of schools are more difficult to comprehend than general consumers. They often ask for trials, so regardless of whether they genuinely want to buy the product, the lead time is fairly long, and many factors shape its success. Therefore, developing this type of product requires patience and continuous communication with teachers and students.