What’s your problem?

Having listened to many podcasts, read different literature and talked to various people, it still astounds me how certain edtech products are not developed with a clear problem in mind. With this I mean, the problem the product is supposed to solve.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash
Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

One of the first things we discussed during UCL’s MA programme in Education and Technology was this disconnect between edtech companies and educators, and that being one of the reasons many new edtech start-ups fail. Sometimes, for example, we see a company developing a new product for education based on a successful experience they had in a different sector, lifting the technology from one context to another.

Just over a year ago, I was in a meeting with directors who were discussing the development of their education platform. At some point, one of them mentioned the huge success they had had with a certain type of software in their (non-education) company and how transferring that to the class was bound to be a success as well. I was surprised by how the other directors accepted this and were not critical of the suggestion or the wider context. Let me emphasise that this discussion was not focused at all on what problem this technological enhancement to the product was supposed to solve.

“Start with the educational context, the problem you are trying to solve and then look at what solutions could potentially work for that”

Yes, perhaps it would work in the end. Perhaps they would be able to make those connections later on. But certainly it is more beneficial to be surer from the start. So let’s not work the wrong way round. Start with the educational context, the problem you are trying to solve and then look at what solutions could potentially work for that.

I love how Sophie of the edtech Podcast often asks people on the show what problem their technology is supposed to solve. Often contributors give great insightful responses, but sometimes they still don’t.

What do you think? Have you experienced the same observations as me? Do you have any specific examples?

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