Guest Viewpoint

Walking a Mile in a Teacher’s Shoes: The Role of the Teacher in Ed Tech Development

Diversity is a term that is more relevant today than ever. We know that diversity is important in the workforce — not only in terms of race and gender, but also in terms of someone’s knowledge and background. Diversity can greatly help an ed tech company from a research and development standpoint. And in the end, it can allow for a more polished and well-thought-out final product.

Think about it this way. In order to successfully build an app or product, you need insight and input from your audience. You need to know how that audience works, how the product would benefit them, and where the value lies. Without this knowledge, the resulting product could fall flat.

This audience-driven success is no different in the ed tech space. In order for an educational tool to be successful, it must fit the needs of a classroom. So, who is better than a former educator to help drive the development of a product? Their diverse skill set and background might just be the key to success within the ed tech industry.

The Perceptive Eye of a Teacher

Teachers spend years receiving in-depth training — not only in theory, but in the classroom as well. Because of this, they are well aware of how teaching methods and social-emotional elements affect students. They know how each student learns and expresses their knowledge. And they know what digital tools work best for learning styles and needs.

Teachers also understand the impact of ed tech in the classroom. They have seen up close what teaching is like, both virtually and in-person. They know how ed tech can benefit themselves, other teachers, administrators, and staff. They know digital tools can improve the classroom experience for students, while adding to a teacher’s skill set.

This experience and knowledge are both important for the ed tech development process. And it will, in the end, identify what technologies succeed.

Leveraging Teacher Knowledge

Ed tech companies should utilize the knowledge and experience of teachers. And, hiring former teachers and school administrators can help bridge this gap.

Having a diverse talent force can allow companies to "walk" in a teacher’s shoes. The reality is that there is no replacement for real-world experience. An ed tech company without teacher input would miss out on the small details picked up when spending time with students. These small details can make a major difference when modeling new digital tools or improving existing ones. Ground-level input from educators will result in products that solve real-world classroom problems.

Insight from an educator can paint a full picture of how digital tools can:

  • Address specific needs of today’s students, teachers, and administrators;
  • Impact students, teachers, and administrators while being used;
  • Impact classroom workflow; and
  • Improve the parent/guardian-teacher relationship

The Importance of Diverse Educator Perspectives

The celebrations and obstacles of a teacher are often unknown to those who have never worked in the field. Being able to "level" educator-to-educator is key in building trust and relationships. And the ability to give caring and instructive messages to those on the receiving end is invaluable.

Every ed tech company should work to make education as accessible as possible. That means including teachers of diverse backgrounds in ed tech development. After all, they are the ones who best understand what is needed.

About the Author

Jason Carroll is the Chief Product Officer at Texthelp, a leading technology company focused on helping all people learn, understand, and communicate through the use of digital education and accessibility tools. His focus is on helping to make smart, easy to use products that help diverse learners of all ages succeed and he speaks internationally on these topics each year.