Engaging Educators in Technology Use. Tips for Startups and Entrepreneurs to Promote Their EdTech Products

Daryna Tkachenko

Here is a paradox. This generation of school children is beyond tech-savvy. This is the school’s main responsibility to teach ICT skills as the 21st-century essentials. Ironically, just a small percentage of teachers are willing (and capable) to use technology in classroom, let alone developing technical skills in their pupils.

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According to SAM Labs 2017 report, four in five U.S. teachers say they haven't received the training they need to effectively use the technology they are asked to in classroom. Has anyone dared to collect statistics in less developed countries?

As an R&D and IT consulting shop, Logicify is building a network of connected EdTech businesses and service providers. As a part of this network, EdTech startup founders and product owners often share the challenges they face with their digital “offsprings.” Quite common challenges concern marketing and promoting the products to the target audience - educators.

LinkedIn Quote on EdTech Challenges

True, even in digital era, schools are slow when it comes to making changes. This is the main reason why EdTech products, though innovative and super-user-friendly, are being adapted and used so reluctantly. Educators follow traditional teaching methods, and, in some institutions, teachers fear that they will fail to adapt to a new technology, or that the technology will “steal” their jobs. Some teachers are unwilling to use technology because of a lack of time, skills, resources, confidence - underline as applicable. Some are just skeptical they will benefit from it.

We gathered a few helpful marketing tips for EdTech product owners and startupers to make their products more teacher-oriented, engage larger audience and increase the conversion rates.

Things to keep in mind while developing an EdTech solution:

  • The rule of thumb is to create the product with the user in mind. Know your users and, on every stage of the development process, be sure you build the tool teachers want, instead of the tool you think teachers want. For the product to be a success among pedagogues, make sure it has an input from educators and considers teachers workflow & the cyclic nature of school life.
  • Discover real use-cases from your users (freemium service of Google Analytics is a perfect tool for this) and give your users a feedback mechanism: in-app widgets, chat or Contact Us forms. Carefully collect and analyze behavior and user feedback and let your product develop around these insights. Be ready to adapt and improve the product per your users’ needs.
  • Make your product as simple as possible.
    • Take advantage of modern touch-screen technologies and multitouch interfaces so your users do not need keyboard and mouse. Most of modern devices have a touch-screen, you could hardly overlook this.
    • For the front-end part of your application, create an intuitive UI (user interface) keeping UX (user experience) in mind. Even such a simple thing as customizable font size would add to your product’s UX - eyesight issues are a common side-effect of teaching.
    • For the back-end part, make sure the source code is optimized, and this would not take your users long to install, update and launch the application.

Targets product owners need to hit while marketing EdTech solutions to

a) retain existing users

When targeting educators who already tried installing your app, convince them life would never be the same without it. Persuade them your app perfectly meets their needs and is easy-to-use (there is nothing to fear even if they are not to tech-savvy) by

  • creating a squeeze or landing page and listing all the products benefits concisely
  • recording video-tutorials to train users how to use the app
  • adding an FAQ or Q&A sections and a Contact form
  • giving users a mechanism to leave feedback and share their impressions on and experience with the app.

b) engage new users

Here are a few helpful tips and tricks to use when promoting the EdTech product for entirely new users.

  • Make special sales. Educators start looking for EdTech products to use in their classrooms during holidays. Announcing a Christmas or a Back-to-School sale during this time would encourage purchases.
  • Give freebies to gain trust and reputation among your users. It is always a nice move to include a free trial package, a sample, or a limited subscription into your pricing model as people love being treated for free. More so, most educators like to test the product before paying money for it. More often than not, educators conduct thorough and timely research to guide their technology purchasing decisions.
  • Know your purchasing decision maker. For EdTech products, in addition to its owners, there are several stakeholders: administrators, principals, teachers, parents. The executives who make purchasing decisions are not always the target audience; likewise, teachers whom your application targets are not always free to choose and pay for a product they’d like to use.
  • Build lasting relationships with people in education communities. Visit school and district events, seminars and conferences, meet educators and introduce your solution to them. This way, educators would see a solution-maker not just a seller in you.
  • Collect friendly testimonials from existing users to add validation to your tool. Products without enough visible customer satisfaction, especially distributed at a high price, are not likely to attract new users.
  • Do not underestimate the word of mouth; it means a lot in teachers circles. Ask existing users who tried and liked your product for referrals. Sometimes, a group of talkative teachers could do better than a professional marketing team. Educators trust their colleagues and are used to relying on recommendations when they seek new digital products.

A few benefits you should definitely advertise to make your EdTech product more appealing to teachers:

enefits of EdTech Products One Can Adverstise

EdTech Needs Support of School Administrators

In the name of Olympian objectivity, let’s admit that marketing EdTech products is useless, if not impossible, without the support and encouragement from administration on school, district, and even national levels. To flood the classroom with technology, school administrators should support and encourage teachers to use it day-by-day. Baseline steps are giving teachers Internet access across the campus, updating internal web-portal with the school news, establishing friendly BYOD policy, supplying teachers and equipping classrooms with electronic devices. It would also be useful for schools to have a technology specialist or a technology resource teacher in staff to support school IT infrastructure and train other teachers on EdTech tools use.

Technology can make educators’ life easier, but only if they overcome the fear of change and feel capable using EdTech solutions. Teachers need support from authorities and administration as many schools even in developed countries still lag behind in access to electronic devices and the Internet. EdTech product owners, at their end, should persuade educators in the benefits of these solutions and engage larger audience to use them. The best strategies for this is finding the balance between simplicity and functionality by making educative apps as user-friendly and as targeted as possible. Just as a well-written textbook, an elaborated software application - developed and designed with the user in mind - can reach students not just in one classroom but all over the world.

The article was also published as a guest-post at http://edtechreview.in.

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