There’s been a lot of talk about whether ed-tech should be evolutionary or revolutionary. Should it build on existing systems and instructional philosophies, or completely revamp how we think about education? Although I personally believe the most effective solutions can draw on both approaches, it’s clear to me that software intended for students must be evolutionary as we consider the logistics of integrating technology in students’ daily lives. In this sense, influencing what students do with their time should be as revolutionary as is needed to be effective. However, influencing when and how students engage with ed-tech should follow a path of least resistance.
Here are five realities to consider when attempting to integrate education technology into students’ daily lives.
- What hardware do students use? According to a Pew study, 78 percent of teens own a cell phone and almost half own smartphones. Where students go, smartphones go. So optimizing your technology (either as an app or web app) for cell phones is essential to reaching students effectively.
- Smaller screen means minimalistic design. What’s the core purpose of your technology? What core features propel the mission of your company? Keep the core features and remove the distractions. Ease of use is paramount. And optimizing your software for smartphones first and foremost can guide you on this path.
- How do students communicate online? Whereas 63 percent of teens say they text everyday, only 6 percent communicate by email daily. When building out end-user notifications, consider this fact, and consider investing in an automated texting service to optimize continued use of your technology. This practice also circumvents the fact that school email servers can have more aggressive spam filters that could further exacerbate your efforts to reach end users.
- What kinds of social media do students use? What captures their attention within those services? Instagram, not Facebook. Photos and videos, not text. Increasing and sustaining engagement means knowing how students spend their time, and recognizing that education is inherently social is a prerequisite for successful integration.
- What are students’ schedules like? Busy. Consider facts like middle school students and freshmen and sophomores don’t drive, meaning the time students spend texting and posting on social media to and from school could be better spent on your technology. Use these insights to find entry points.
Overall, the flexibility and personalization that ed-tech enables can often be overwhelming. It’s all too easy to get lost in the infinite ways we can collectively change education. For this reason, grounding your development in the logistical realities of today’s K-12 student is an ideal way to center your focus on reaching students where they are.
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