If you’re not in education, you may feel uncertain about creating educational products or have a different outlook than students and educators. Drawing on my product design experience, this article outlines school and student perspectives on this topic to help you develop better EdTech products.
First, we must recognise that our product’s audience is not only students but also schools, teachers, and parents who make the purchasing decisions.
Does the product lighten or add to the workload of teachers?
Most ICT teachers have qualifications in information technology. However, they must take additional courses regularly to stay up-to-date with technological advances and curriculum changes. If the product is complex for teachers to use, they are unlikely to attempt it.
What do schools think about STEM or interdisciplinary programmes?
Teachers are increasingly open to STEM and interdisciplinary courses. However, there are still worries about how to divide the workload between teachers of different subjects and how the new curriculum will fit into the existing one.
Can you provide additional services to support schools in addition to the core product?
Schools focus on reducing teaching and operating costs. Providing maintenance, technical support, consultation, and replacing multiple vendors can make the product more commercially viable.
Is the product suitable for competition? Do any organisations or schools recommend or use it?
Schools value not only business incentives but also reputation. To boost competitiveness, they may encourage students to participate in competitions, organise public events independently, or collaborate with well-known partners. Additionally, competitions can be held on campus, or the product can be promoted with other partners.
Do you have a good understanding of the current generation?
Technology is constantly evolving, and so is education. Kindergarteners may not be familiar with a keyboard, but elementary school students are already learning to process computer input and output. Technical proficiency varies greatly depending on age and educational experience. To design products for students, it’s essential to understand what they are learning.
Are the interaction and graphic design suitable for the learners’ age group?
Did you know that toddlers are more visually discerning than designers? Kindergarteners are highly aware of age-appropriate content. They can distinguish between content suitable for nursery and upper-class children and show less interest in content that appears too naive or mature. Designers should take the time to determine appropriate graphic styles and interactions for specific age groups.
How does the curriculum develop students’ soft and hard skills?
Hong Kong’s curriculum typically focuses on hard skills training. However, the trend is shifting towards developing students’ soft skills and preparing them for the future. For instance, project-based learning, understanding technology applications, and training students in collaboration, design thinking, and problem-solving can help them gain skills applicable to various workplaces.
Is the course offered during regular school hours or after school?
Lesson delivery has a significant influence on curriculum structure. Combining with regular classes can guarantee profitability, but the curriculum must comply with the Education Bureau’s or the school’s requirements. After-school classes indicate that students are likely to be more motivated. The curriculum, instructors, and resources can be more flexible than regular classes.
How can learning, particularly complex concepts, be engaging?
Text-based learning can impart much knowledge but often fails to generate interest and motivation among young people. Interaction is key to effective communication. Education can be made more accessible and engaging if knowledge is presented in manageable chunks and supplemented with hands-on activities.
How does self-learning affect students and teachers?
Many courses are too intense for beginners without teacher assistance. It would be ideal if the teaching burden could be reduced while encouraging self-learning. A low-guided self-learning program allows students to study independently with minimal teacher guidance. The idea is that the course materials are comprehensive, and the curriculum can be learned independently.
What do learning reports mean to students?
Schools and parents in HK prioritise reports to assess students’ learning outcomes, identify learning issues, and demonstrate their abilities. Electronic reports should be provided to teachers (detailed and comparable) and students (summary and visual). Certificates and awards should also be issued to complement and showcase students’ learning and abilities.
Do programmes have to be taught by school teachers?
Have you ever considered having third parties teach in schools? If the course does not have strict qualification criteria, another option is to bring in trained instructors from internal or external partners. This can provide feedback and allow for faster adjustments to teaching than with school teachers.
How do user flow and learning tools influence learning outcomes?
Self-learning platforms are popular because they unify text-based learning, assignments, and other activities into one, eliminating the need for learners to access multiple platforms. When designing new products, aim to provide a single, unified platform for students to complete their learning process.
What hardware or environmental limitations does the school encounter?
Although technology education is essential, not every school has the necessary hardware. Some schools have outdated hardware, while others have privacy concerns about cloud services. Additionally, classrooms often have weak Internet connections, making it essential to market a particular type of school. However, it is crucial to think twice before catering to individual requirements.
These are key lessons learned from years of EdTech product design. It’s a complex process, as it’s a B2B product designed for schools. Schools’ interests are more difficult to comprehend than those of general consumers. They often request trials, so the lead time is lengthy, and many factors influence its success. Thus, developing this product requires patience and ongoing communication with teachers and students.