Teachers face a variety of problems on a daily basis. As class sizes in most public schools rise, how do they monitor the progress of each child and ensure that those struggling receive the help that they need? How do they communicate efficiently with parents, including those who may not speak English fluently? Calling parents to discuss issues with each child is time-consuming, and many parents are difficult to reach on the first call.
These are issues that have allowed too many children to slip through the cracks over the years, but entrepreneurs and education-minded companies are coming up with innovative education technology products with the power to change that for future generations. Now commonly referred to as edtech, this industry experienced a slump and then reached a boiling point in 2017 with experts predicting sales over a million for that year.
According to financial data and software company Pitchbook, this is potentially due to recent technological developments that work well for teachers, students and parents, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Tech-savvy teachers are now using simulation software to watch amazing things happen rather than reading about them in textbooks. They’re interacting with their lessons, debating after school hours through forums and working in groups more often.
Technology allows an action-oriented approach to learning that keeps kids of all ages interested while allowing teachers some incredible resources to bring their lesson plans to life. EdTech products like the popular ClassDojo are creating accessible solutions to the most troubling teacher problems, but they’re also creating a positive culture inside classrooms and throughout schools. Some are even creating a greater sense of connection and empowerment between schools and the surrounding community.
An Example of Winning EdTech
There are a handful of edtech products that are now working well for school systems across the country or even around the world, but there is one that exemplifies what it takes to succeed in this industry today. We’re talking about a simple yet transforming communication platform known as ClassDojo.
The communication app was developed in 2011 with the intention of bridging the gap between the classroom and the everyday lives of parents. 80 teachers joined the platform within the first week of product launch, and the app is now used in approximately 90 percent of schools serving children from kindergarten up to eighth grade. It has received awards and recognition from news outlets like the Today Show as well as technology influencers like Forbes and TechCrunch.
How does ClassDojo work? Teachers sign up for a free account and then give parents a simple link that will allow them to connect with that account through their cellphones, tablets or any computer with internet access. Each teacher can work with a variety of easy-to-use settings to personalize the experience for their students and parents. Once everyone is connected, teachers can quickly use the app to do all of the following plus much more:
- Share student progress with parents
- Reward students for good behavior
- Pass quick notes and reminders to parents
- Translate messages for certain parents with more than 30 language options
- Share pictures and video clips from the classroom
- Sort students into groups
- Alert parents to their availability
Students can also personalize their ClassDojo accounts, allowing them to share their school experience with their peers and their parents. These features obviously solve some of the biggest problems that many teachers face in the modern education system, including:
- A simple way to reach parents that doesn’t involve nonstop phone calls
- Fostering interaction between students in and out of the classroom
- Giving parents a real-time glimpse into the classroom at the teacher’s discretion
- Providing incentives that encourage good behavior without financial investment from the teacher
- Allowing teachers to alert parents when students are struggling, possibly lowering the number of children left behind unintentionally
- Creating a sense of connection and between the school and the community
- Empowering teachers to set boundaries for communication methods and times, so they aren’t on call at all hoursPerhaps the biggest selling point for a TechEd product like ClassDojo is the fact that kids want to use the app. It solves problems for teachers and students while allowing children to feel like it’s all about them. At the end of the day, that is really what education is all about.
Most Likely to Succeed EdTech Products in 2018 and Beyond
Investors, entrepreneurs and companies interested in improving education at all levels are now watching the education technology industry with optimistic hope. Those most likely to succeed are taking notes on the problems experienced by teachers in the classroom as well as principals and support staff, parents and students. They’re crafting innovative ideas using the best that technology has to offer.
Those that can hit just three markers of edtech success have the greatest potential to take off in the near future.
- They relieve a troubling pain point for teachers and other education professionals. Funding for education is highly competitive and extremely limited in many school districts, so only products that solve the biggest problems in the most economical way are likely to succeed. ClassDojo likely succeeded because it solves many problems and is free for teachers.
- The product is proven to deliver the intended results. The more this industry develops, the harder entrepreneurs and companies must work to prove that they have the best solution to the most troubling problems.
- Teachers have the resources and knowledge needed to implement the technology into the classroom smoothly. This may mean more guidance and education coming from companies introducing new EdTech products.
Successful products like ClassDojo don’t just surface overnight. They are developed from the heart of the classroom and a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by modern educational teams. This includes an understanding of funding issues and rapidly changing school system rules. Entrepreneurs and companies able to tap into the pain points of modern education and come up with products that empower and connect rather than just educate have a good chance of taking off in the years to come.