Edtech and You: What Helps and What Hurts

I read a really interesting piece on Forbes.com a couple of weeks back: 5 Things Edtech Startups Can Learn From Classroom Teachers.

In it, author Jordan Shapiro makes the very good point that edtech entrepreneurs often buy into their own hype about how groundbreaking their product is…without ever talking to real-live classroom teachers to find out what they truly want and need. “Perhaps your new product is disruptive,” Shapiro says, “but disruption is not what we need.” (Shapiro is the Digital Learning Coordinator at Temple University in Philadelphia.)

Teachers, Shapiro notes, often feel there’s a gap between the edtech tools available to them – “most of which are purchased by districts on their behalf” – and what they find to be most effective in the classroom. The best tools, says Shapiro, “non-invasively [help] teachers to do a well-practiced job with increased precision and ease.”

The disconnect, of course, is that edtech entrepreneurs aren’t generally in the classroom themselves. Their goal is to “shake things up” and fix what’s not broken rather than make your teaching life easier and better (which, not coincidentally, may remind you of some of your more challenging students!).

Here at MemberHub, we work as closely as possible with the teachers  and parents who are on the front lines every day. Our goal is to make your school communications easier and better – not simply more digitized. This is a BIG challenge. Much bigger than I had ever anticipated. Which is why we’re always asking for your feedback – we truly want to hear what you think and how we can make things better!

While we’re always thrilled to hear rave reviews, it’s even more useful to hear what’s not working, because then we can get to work on fixing it.

Teachers (and parents) can be skeptical of new classroom technologies, Shapiro says – and rightly so: “So many educational technologies disappeared just as quickly as they arrived…[e]ducation professionals are hardly inspired by promises of the next new big thing.” We get that. Which is why the MemberHub team is dedicated to working steadily to earn your trust and become as indispensable in your classroom as your favorite grading pen.

Teachers (or parents), what do you think? Have you had a personal experience with edtech that was all hype and no substance? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!