more computers available for students in U.S. schools than ever before. More
than nine out of 10 schools now use computers and more than
39 million students and 74,000 U.S. schools now have access to
internet speeds of at least 100 kilobits per second, per student.
all this hardware and connectivity, edtech has not reached its potential and
doesn’t look to do so in the near future. Fact is, most teachers are not using
new technologies to transform their teaching.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why edtech
companies struggle to succeed.
The idealism problem
edtech founders start out with an idealistic plan to solve learning issues they
experienced as students. They don’t have a background in teaching, they are
like you and me: people who went to school and had some unfortunate experiences
that they believe can be resolved with technology. The problem is today’s
students face different problems: constant change, constant connectivity, and a
much less nurturing community. It’s impossible to design effective technology
to solve today’s challenges that students and teachers face, based on the
learning experience of one or two founders.
Teachers are not consulted
than not, teachers hear about a new tech solution that they must implement when
administration informs them about a procurement.
They are often not involved in the decision-making process. But that’s not all. Edtech entrepreneurs
usually arrive with tech solutions to problems they identified without
happens when edtech professionals don’t consult with educators? It looks to
teachers as if edtech founders are not interested in education as such and don’t
grasp what education really entails. Founders are creating their companies for
other reasons and being excluded from the process, educators tend to resent
Teachers resist technology in their classrooms
teachers have indicated that they don’t have the confidence to use technology
in their classrooms. The resistance is also present among younger teachers who
have grown up with technology and are not intimidated by it. Teachers are
resistant to integrating technology in their classrooms for a number of
reasons. They fear that they might lose control of a class absorbed in the
internet on iPads and laptops. They also worry that kids will look at Facebook
or Instagram instead of doing assignments. Many teachers are also not convinced
of the educational benefits of edtech products.
Edtech products are not great products
won’t succeed if it doesn’t improve its products. Most edtech products lack
user-centered design. User-centered
design focuses on the users and their needs in each phase of the
design process. Too often edtech
products are based on what entrepreneurs perceive the needs of teachers and
students to be and not on their actual needs. Therefore, their products fail.
an industry that ignores the needs of its customers can never reach its full
potential. Edtech entrepreneurs must get out their offices and into classrooms
or prepare for failure.