How Teachers, Entrepreneurs Can Create Common Ground (EdSurge News) | Must Read articles: Apps and eBooks for kids |

Edtech developers typically try to solve what they believe are the pain points that exist in schools. But as startup gurus such as Steve Blankrecommend, entrepreneurs need to be in close contact with their customers or they risk building on assumptions that are out of sync with reality


(...) Sue Krause, a technology teacher and coordinator at Blaine Elementary in Chicago Public Schools, and who spent 12 years as a software and web developer, expressed concerns whenever she heard entrepreneurs describe their products as “intuitive.” She wished, for instance, that NoRedInk had user documentation. “When I asked for user documentation, [the vendor] said, ‘Oh, it’s so intuitive.’ I can tell you that nothing is that intuitive when a teacher is not that tech savvy,” Krause noted. Similarly, with InstaGrok, she found “the content was fantastic and the ability to do research was great, but right now, working with it is extremely cumbersome.”

  (...) These comments underscore the tricky balance between listening to feedback and acceding to feature requests, something that Cogan-Drew knows all too well. Not too long ago, he was on the buyer’s side of the table, as director of digital learning at Achievement First Public Charter Schools. “I gave 100 amazing ideas to [entrepreneurs about products] that were not adopted,” he recalls. “I may have been frustrated, like ‘Hey, why didn’t you use that?’...It’s hard, you get 100 ideas a day and you get a lot of voices telling you which way to turn.” Now, as a vendor, he urged teachers to cut developers a bit more slack. “It’s about focus: while we’re definitely listening, we can’t pivot as quickly as you may think. We have to set long-term priorities.”