What Education Technology Companies Need to Know about School Closures
More than half a million students are currently out of school, and many will be out of school for the next several months. The threats to student attainment and progress are significant and amplified by gaps in access to hardware and software on the part of students and teachers.
The urgency of closing schools has resulted in a fast response, ensuring that students have access to some form of learning. Education technology providers have offered extensive support and access to free resources. At Mirai Partners, for example, we are part of a consortium dedicated to providing free-of-cost services to ensure academic continuity. A friend of Mirai recently tweeted that this could be the golden age of learning.
While levels of access to and the quality of digital learning vary across communities, we know that school will not be the same in six months. Students, teachers, parents, and school leaders will have more experience with online learning and higher expectations for online learning than in past years. More students will have digital access at home and school when they return, as many parents have realigned their budgets to purchase the devices required for work and school.
Education technology adoption and full utilization are set to grow during this time, and we can expect a high level of use to continue well-beyond COVID-19 closures. Education technology companies from start-ups to large established corporations have taken notice. Many see adoption during school closures as a make-or-break moment. As such, they are aggressively marketing their products and services to school leaders, governments, and school-based technology leaders and coaches.
As consultants working with both schools and ed-tech companies, we have compiled a list of considerations for ed-tech companies reaching out to schools at this time.
1) Give schools a bit of time to get used to the process of delivering education online. If your product was not in their use or on their radar, it will not be in their first-level response. They are also not likely to be open to outreach until they have basic systems in place.
2) Start with schools that have previously shown interest in your product or service. Perhaps it wasn’t the right time, or your product was not in their budget.
3) Make sure your product works in the context of self-isolation. If the product requires any face-to-face training or use, it is not the right time to reach out to schools.
4) Know what problem you solve. Schools will be most receptive to products that address the quality of teaching and learning online, ensure student progress, support critical milestones such as learning to read, close the gap between online learning and experiential learning, and contribute to data-driven instruction.
5) Know your markets. Make sure that you have completed a curriculum alignment for the country you hope to enter. Even if your product is offered free now, make sure that your price point is appropriate for your markets in the long run. Depending on your market, you may need products that can work offline as well as online.
6) Collect and offer impact data. Before making a purchasing decision, schools will want to know the impact of your product.