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Teachers in EdTech: Trading the Classroom for the Boardroom

Trading the Classroom for the Boardroom - TeacherCast Guest Blog

After I left teaching, I remember working with myriad technologies in my document management and records analysis job.  I had some good tools for getting the job done, but there was never a perfect tech tool for it.

The same can be said for the technology in my classroom.  I admit that I left the classroom quite a while ago, but no matter what, I’ve always felt that if I want something done right, I should do it myself.  In the case of ed-tech, it may benefit by having more teachers adopt the role of entrepreneur rather than just advisor.  It could be said that teachers won’t make good entrepreneurs, but I disagree.  Here’s why:

Biz Skills in Place

Teachers come ready-made with skills needed for management and leadership in the business world.  Who else knows how to motivate others and keep them accountable better than a teacher?  Successful teachers are the ones who have forged connections with their students but still maintain a professional relationship with them.

When teachers look at the essential qualities of a great classroom leader, it’s easy to see how these translate to leadership outside the classroom.  Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of time, and teachers regularly put in time commitments that could put Richard Branson to shame.

One of Forbes’ Top 10 Qualities That Make a Great Leader is creativity.  It takes a lot of creativity to motivate a group of kids, no matter the age.  It also takes a lot of creativity in the startup world to find the gap needs to be narrowed.  That’s what ed-tech innovation is all about: disrupting by recognizing and satisfying a need.

Think It’s Broke?  Fix It

Ed-tech manager Jin-Soo Huh recently wrote for EdSurge that his teachers won’t use the tech he procures for them.  One of the biggest points of contention was usability.  No one wants to use tech that’s difficult to use.  This has sparked debates between Apple and Android users for years, and will continue to do so.

Feeding into the usability debate is the fact that the tech is often created by companies who only use educators as advisors and is chosen by tech specialists who have never been in the classroom.  Teachers have proved they want more control in ed-tech decisions; why not take this a step further?

Creating the tech solutions to classroom problems has the potential to give educators more leverage over the tools that are purchased and used in their classrooms.  District decision-makers will have a difficult time arguing that a tool built by its teachers won’t fit the district’s needs.

Expand the Reach

Once a solution has been created and put into practice by its creators, it’s time to put those business skills to work.  Start small by sharing your tool with educators you know outside your school or district.

The more early adopters you have, the greater the crowd you can source for funding once you decide to market your tool.  Early adopters are not only your evangelists, but they can also be your first investors in your new ed-tech startup.

The most successful entrepreneurs are those who started with something personal.  They have plugged holes in their original industries and gone on to plug holes in others with their continued creativity and innovation.  If you feel there’s a hole in your classroom tech, how do you think you can plug it?


Hattie James is a writer and researcher living in Boise, Idaho. She has a varied background, including education and sports journalism. She is a former electronic content manager and analyst for a government agency. She recently completed her MBA and enjoys local ciders.

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