The education sector is unlike any other business niche. Before you get excited about building the next Udemy or Coursera, let us remind you of a few critical considerations you need to keep in mind to succeed in EdTech:
- Funding does not equal profit. Most startups are out to get investors’ money to get the project off the ground and onto the market. They forget that “fundable” business is not necessarily profitable.Instead of focusing on attracting investors, focus on the target audience needs, develop a solid EdTech business plan, consider monetization and marketing options. Once they see the potential for returns, investors will flock your project with no extra effort on your part.
- Schools can’t afford many EdTech tools. With cutthroat competition developing in the EdTech industry, you should be clear on the benefits your product can bring to the table. Reasonable pricing is also critical to staying in business, as schools operate on a limited budget, and they need to be sure their investments get the best value for money.
- Minors’ data security should be a priority. With an influx of security breaches and private data leaks, you must follow data protection regulations (GDPR and others) or risk reputational and financial losses. Think carefully about the private data you gather and ensure its security against malicious attack. Educate users and admins on data security best practices and promote their use.
- Educators are the worst students. Young minds are quick to adapt and adopt new technology and education tools, so you need not worry about students. It’s the teachers that will give you the most trouble when pitching the product. Most teachers are trained to use traditional tools: blackboards, pencils, and textbooks. Training and support should be a part of your launch strategy if you want educators to use full capabilities of your solution.
- Access to the technology in the classroom breeds academic dishonesty. Students rely on smartphones and in-class devices to find answers to tests, and most don’t even consider this cheating. It is not only a problem for teachers who can’t objectively evaluate the student’s work. It is a dangerous trend that a few decades from now may cause catastrophic consequences for a society that believes every piece of information found online is 100% true and reliable.
- In-house educators help breach the gap between your EdTech company and academia. Teachers and school administrators deal with theories and ideas. They will not appreciate your action-driven approach, and trust will be impossible to achieve without an insider in your corner. Get an influencer or a forward-thinking teacher on your team to help translate your offer into the language of academia and bureaucrats.
Get an influencer or a forward-thinking teacher on your team to help translate your offer into the language of academia and bureaucrats.
Must-have edtech app features for teachers and students
The feature set for an EdTech project depends on the target audience and its needs. While Coursera, Udemy, and edX may share many features, they would be useless for Kahoot. Still, there are several considerations all EdTech startups should keep in mind, especially when targeting traditional schools:
- Assignment, assessment, and logbook features. To attract teachers, EdTech software must seamlessly slot into their daily workflow. They should be able to create new tasks for students, mark their progress, evaluate results, and keep track of grades. Secure cloud storage is essential for many of these needs.
- Group mode and collaboration options. Besides an opportunity to view, share, and edit the same files at the same time, the EdTech app must acknowledge the lack of digital devices in many classrooms. Most schools still can’t afford to provide every student with a screen. Your app should allow for two or more students to study simultaneously using one screen.
- In-class and at home study features. These should be intuitive and user-friendly to ensure both students and their parents can continue the study process without constant teacher supervision. Clean UX and UI design and logical flow are a priority if you want your app to transform all aspects of the educational journey.
- Cross-platform compatibility. In line with the previous point, apps should be easy to access in class and outside. Besides school tablets or laptops, students should be able to log into their account on their smartphones or personal laptops to go over the material learned, complete homework assignments, and prepare for tests and finals.
- Simple authentication procedures. To keep the school data secure, encourage best cybersecurity practices. This includes hard passwords that are difficult to remember, but you can provide teachers and students with a Facebook or Google sign up to save time and avoid the need for another password.
- Seamless integration with other EdTech apps. Teacher’s dashboard should connect to the learning management system (LMS) and school information system (SIS). Integration makes the teacher’s job easier and speeds up everyday processes. Some EdTech startups offer their products for free, but charge schools for integration options.
- Digital space communication and interaction features. Besides collaborative efforts and group work, children should learn how to navigate life as digital citizens. They must develop respect for each other’s rights and limitations and have a direct line of communication with classmates and teachers. Instant messaging, forum boards, video or audio-conference tools are among viable options.
This is not an exhaustive list of features necessary across all EdTech business models; however, the more of these you include to your product, the easier it will be for teachers and students to get on board with the app.