As a KS2 teacher and Computing lead for my school, I used to be really frustrated by some of the new technology we were given to evaluate. Whilst the educational benefits for the children were normally unquestionable, it often felt like us teachers who actually had to use it were an afterthought. Overly complicated, illogical, buggy and just too hard to use. It was clear that the developers had never set foot in a classroom and certainly didn’t understand what teachers want.
One of the challenges technology companies often overlook is that teachers have a busy schedule and using their technology isn’t top of a teacher’s priority list. While juggling planning, preparation and assessment, it can be tricky to find the time to learn something new and when time is found, learning something new often needs to be done quickly.
Another challenge is that teachers are professionals whose specialties lie in a wide range of subjects. This means that although some teachers are great at using technology, many others are less confident and find using new technology a daunting task. Teachers are employed because they’re great at teaching not because they’re the next Bill Gates. You don’t judge a fish on its ability to climb trees, nor should you judge teachers for their ability to decipher user manuals of badly designed technology.
Although many more challenges exist when developing EdTech products, these were the main two that I wanted to overcome when I took the decision to leave teaching to focus on building better technology for teachers.
When I joined The Hug Group last year, I understood that there will be challenges developing ClassHug, especially considering that we are using a new technology in schools that teachers would have not seen before. Tackling the above issues would allow us to create a positive user experience for any user.
Once we understood this, we had two main priorities when designing our app. We wanted it to be quick and easy to learn and we wanted it to be intuitive to use so that no matter the user’s skill level, they would be able to use it with confidence.
Now that the ClassHug App is complete, our schools and ourselves have been extremely happy with the results. For first time users, it takes seconds to pair children with a tracker and begin tracking. This means it doesn’t take much time out of a teacher’s schedule. We’ve also had happy feedback from users who would usually describe themselves as technophobes so we know we are heading in the right direction.
In fact, when we’re doing demos to new schools we often tell them in the meeting to just give it a go without reading the manual and see how far they get. Most of the time they’ve worked it out by themselves in seconds – it’s all down to the design.
We’re not resting on our laurels though, there’s loads more we want to do in the future and it’s great to be able to say that we’ve got a product designed by teachers for teachers and that teacher’s love.
About the Author:
Lee Denness BSc PGCE was a KS2 teacher and computing lead for a primary school in Kent. He left teaching in 2017 to focus on making better technology for teachers – a classic case of poacher turned gamekeeper