Building for education

Building for education

By Mark Andrews, Digital Learning Programme Manager, Cambridge Judge Business School

As Geoff Stead’s previous post highlighted, the opportunities within EdTech are large. So how are is your idea going to reach them? With only a few days to go before the DisruptEd Venture Creation Weekend I thought I would share with you four thoughts that you may wish to consider whilst developing your proposition.

1) Leverage the existing Edtech eco-system

One of the strengths of working within education is that it is a highly collaborative industry. The results are that there are mature, widely adopted open source platforms that you can leverage and build upon. Added to that there are communities of practice where you will find willing volunteers to test your product of give feedback on your ideas.

Appitierre are an example of a company who have taken an open source platform (Adapt Learning) for developing rich learning resources and built additional tools, services and functions that both add power and ease of use to the underlying technology.

2) Make your life easier and gain acceptance – use standards

The 90’s saw a flurry of technical development in education. One of the few success stories from this time was the formation of organisations such as the IMS global learning consortium. The IMS defined and continue to define technical standards that handle everything from managing learner login to tracking progress and attainment across different products and back office business systems.

This means you can focus on developing a compelling product knowing that it will be able to integrate with your customers existing eco-system.

Learnosity provide a platform that enables organisations to build engaging digital assessments. They are an example of a company that have baked relevant IMS standards into their core. This blog post by Learnosity outlines how they have used some of the IMS standards to manage users and made access to content more seamless: Plug & Play: All about LTi.

3) Find the right sector for your product

Education is a very large market that can be segmented in many different ways – educational level, industry sector and subject being common categorisations.

Each of these segments will have differing requirements, face different challenges and present different opportunities. For example medical education, which is a big market in its own right, will have differing requirements and culture to say the English Language market. That’s not to say that your product will not be useful to both but that it’s likely you will need to tell a different story and narrative for each market.

Take Labster, a company that develop immersive scenario based VR experiences with the distinctive aim of ’empowering the next generation of scientists’. So whilst the underlying technology could be used in multiple sectors Labster have chosen to target STEM subjects and as such have built a reputation for developing high-quality STEM learning experiences.

Watch a TEDx video of Labster’s founder outlining Labsters vision and product >

4) Don’t forget about education and educators

As a sector education is quite conservative – powered quite heavily by recommendation and commendation.

Ensuring your product addresses a tangible challenge or opportunity is the first step in gaining acceptance. But ensuring that you can evidence and communicate this in a way that is both rigorous and accessible enough is the challenge.

So bring educators (or educator communities) with you on the journey so they can test, provide feedback and ultimately vouch for the quality of your product within their communities.

To people already engaged within EdTech the above reflections may seem obvious but it’s surprising how often I have been pitched a product that on the surface has looked really promising only to find that it falls short in one or more of the above areas and so not been a viable purchase or partnership.

Mark Andrews

Mark Andrews

Digital Learning Programme Manager at Cambridge Judge Business School
Mark has over 10 years' experience of delivering effective digital educational and assessment experiences that span a wide range of educational levels from primary through to executive and corporate education. By partnering with startups and by leveraging the edtech eco system he has designed and implemented innovative solutions in sectors such as international education, business and medical education sectors. Currently responsible for digital learning initiatives here at CJBS, Mark is interested in turning great technology solutions into meaningful and enjoyable learning experiences.
Mark Andrews

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