February 28, 2020 | Angela Ridpath
The use of technology in education is a hot topic. In fact, there are many widespread initiatives around this subject. How transformative will technology be in education? Who are the key influencers in education technology? According to a recent article published by J-PAL North America, in the United States alone, spending on education technology has exceeded $13 billion. In addition, more programs and policies are being developed to bring technology to more schools across the country. The following are examples of how schools and districts are using technology in the classrooms today.
Game-based learning is growing in popularity among K-12 schools and districts. Technology has enabled teachers to gamify the learning experience and make it fun and memorable for students. Teachers are the primary influencers in education apps used in their classrooms. Although they may not have a direct responsibility for the school’s technology budget, they do make the final decisions on which apps are used in their classrooms.
STEM and STEAM
The STEM or STEAM trend is not likely to be going anywhere anytime soon, and teachers are either 100% responsible or key influencers in education programs to support this initiative. A push to help students prepare to fill anticipated jobs in STEM fields is driving this trend. Most of the skills required for success in STEM learning are skills that can be used to solve problems in many other areas. Many other trends, such as makerspaces, could be combined with, and fall into, the STEM category. Anything associated with STEM education, from 3D printing and graphic design to engineering and coding, seems likely to continue to be a trend in K–12 education for the foreseeable future.
Robotics on the rise
Robots will likely continue trending in the K–12 environment. Robots in the classroom can be expensive, but they can serve several different educational purposes. Teachers, once again, are influencers in education programs, curriculum, and spending as it relates to the use of robots in the classroom.
Collaborative Computing and Learning
Many K-12 teachers are also including collaborative computing in their classrooms. This is a new trend that is linked to cloud computing. Students can collaborate with one another in a virtual environment. This has proven to be a successful application to build collaborative environments and to teach children the benefit of working in teams.
One-to-one learning is growing in popularity. However, the ability for schools and districts to have a device (laptop or tablet) for every student depends on their ability to fund this program. Although teachers are not primarily responsible for deciding which devices to purchase for students, they are influencers in these education purchases.
Influencing the influencer
Beyond a doubt, teachers are influencers in education technology. That said, edtech providers should build an outreach program that includes teachers. They are a viable and important marketing segment that is often overlooked. Ask them to try your products. Bring them case studies. Show them how your technology will help them engage with students. Offer training and consultative support. These are all very important items for teachers when considering a technology application in their classroom. Below are some helpful tips for building an influencer strategy with teachers.
Make sure that your brand is in front of teachers on a regular basis. Email is a low cost, high tech way to get your message in front of teachers. You may want to consider a monthly newsletter or special classroom offers and promotions on a regular basis.
Offer a free trial
Sometimes, it takes a hands-on experience to create a brand advocate. Give teachers a free trial of your product and check in with them often. Listen to feedback and take that feedback to heart to make changes to your product if need be.
Create a community
Give teachers a forum to share ideas and learn from one another. Teachers are collaborative and want to do what is best for the classroom. Giving them a place to share successes will increase product engagement and potentially prevent pitfalls.