People collaborating at table

Why EdTech Co-Design with Educators Leads to Success

Friday, December 30, 2016

Finding the right edtech tool for your school can be confusing, even frustrating. Going through a trial-and-error process until you find the right one wastes copious amounts of time and money. But what else can you do?

At Enriching Students, we’ve had the pleasure of working closely with various schools. Actually, we started Enriching Students when we were asked to create a custom software service for ConVal Regional High School.

Co-Design: Why is this such a good idea?

All too often, integrating tech into schools is left for the very end of the process. A tech company puts out some new tool and from there schools are expected to figure out how to implement them. It’s not that the edtech company isn’t trying to solve a real problem, because it very well might be. It’s that a finished tool isn’t flexible.

When teachers are part of the design process, the end result is a tool that really works. It will reflect that it wasn’t just built with teachers in mind – it was designed with them as part of the process. How will that be evident?

A Product Designed For the User

The idea for Enriching Students came from educators – it wasn’t something we just dreamed up thinking, ‘Maybe teachers could use this…?’ So right away, it’s something that is truly useful to a variety of schools looking to manage flexible time for students for enrichment/intervention, competency-based education and personalized learning. What does that look like?

First of all, it will be intuitive and easy to use, every day.  Most tools require some training for all staff to be on board, but it shouldn’t be a tedious, confusing process. It should be simple enough for staff to train staff.

Second, its features will reflect that it is solving real day-today problems. Staff members won’t have to figure out how they’re going to use it, they already know, because it’s solving a real problem that they identified and helped find a solution for.

We’ve found that many teachers and students have benefited from using this software – that it’s helped them give students one on one support. Students have been able to accomplish amazing things, too – and have really taken charge of their learning by using a feature that allows them to schedule themselves to be with teachers. It’s something that is used on a daily basis, and requires minimal support from IT staff.

Flexibility

The process of personalizing learning differs from school to school, especially when it comes to scheduling. Some schools may even have multiple flexible blocks set aside in their day that students need to be scheduled in. Flexibility in how the software can function is essential here. 

Enriching Students allows for a variety of features that can be turned on and off. And as time goes by, schools offer us suggestions about what would make things easier for them. When some new feature doesn’t work out, our users tell us. The design process is ongoing, as users give us feedback as to what they like and don’t like. This allows us to create a tool that becomes more and more useful to more schools.

 At the end of the day, we know it’s because the idea started with teachers and administrators, who saw a problem and asked us to help build a solution. Through the years, it’s that design process that has really paid off.  So if you have an idea for a tool that you know other educators could really use – make it happen! Your idea could turn into a tool that benefits so many others.