Edtech companies: start with your users, not with a problem.

April 29, 2020

As a product manager for Apple in Education, I’ve seen far too many in edtech stick to solid product management advice, only to realize that education is (for good reason) a different ball game. If you want to build a successful edtech product, below is an alternative framework to ensure your edtech products meet the needs of teachers and learners.

Design with teachers and learners, not for them.

Good product sense often won’t work in education because it’s a complicated industry with an additional, more important, measure of success (learner outcomes) that is often not correlated with usage or financial return. Designing effective products for education is hard. Especially if you have not been a teacher in the last few years. No, going to school yourself or having a child in school does not qualify you as someone who “knows education”. Simply building what teachers explicitly ask for also won’t work. It’s not their job to tell you what to build. To build a product that truly has a meaningful impact, design with teachers and learners as you challenge the boundaries of our existing system. Here’s a framework to help you create an open, collaborative process to stay close to your teachers and learners during every phase.

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