Part 3: What Strategies Can EdTech Developers Use to Successfully Launch a New Innovation Based on Research?

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Blog Series: Scaling Evidence-Based Edtech in Postsecondary Education

Part 3: What Strategies Can EdTech Developers Use to Successfully Launch a New Innovation Based on Research?

July 2, 2024 | By Hannah Cheever and Charles Harding

In this third blog post of a multi-part series on conversations with edtech developers, researchers, and practitioners, Meaghan Duff, vice president of programs at the Minerva Project, and David Yaskin, CEO coach and consultant at Ed Tech Coaching and founder of Starfish Retention Solutions, offer some strategies they have used to launch successful edtech products and help create a new market. Learn more about this series and the experts here.

Identify an area of higher education that has been the subject of significant research but lacks support by technology. Yaskin shares that, when he started out, many competitors were developing products such as learning management systems, but there were very few innovations for advising and tutoring.

“Having a strong research basis for what you do and collaborating with those researchers opens a significant number of doors.”
— David Yaskin

His company researched what works in advising and student services and started building a solution that would integrate well with the enterprise systems higher education was using. A key part of this strategy was reaching out to the researchers themselves, particularly those on the cutting edge of the research, who often want to share their ideas and help spread them.

Find out where funding for product adoption is available. Having a product that performs is important, Yaskin goes on, but it is critical to find institutions that have the funding to buy it. Identify institutions that have received federal or philanthropic dollars to invest in new edtech, or review published strategic plans to check alignment of a product with an institution’s initiative or other funding sources.

Demonstrate that a product is not only based on research but also makes an impact. Compared to K–12, higher education places less emphasis on using rigorous, published research on the efficacy of a product to inform adoption decisions. Instead, Yaskin explains, postsecondary institutions look for whether a peer institution has used the product and whether it has had widespread adoption and some kind of impact. Developers can package the impact of their product in the form of case studies and references to encourage other institutions to adopt as well.

When recruiting early faculty adopters, meaningfully collaborate with them to conduct research. Duff suggests it is important to look not only at the feature sets of products from a research perspective, but also at the implementation of those products. Questions to consider might be what kind of change management is necessary for faculty to use a product, what the documented best practices for implementation are, and how students can gain access to and use the product with less friction.

Duff and Yaskin share their final thoughts and advice on scaling edtech in the postsecondary market.

Be flexible and willing to evolve in terms of what the necessary solutions are. For Duff, it is an exciting time to be working in edtech. Factors such as artificial intelligence and the globalization of higher education are pushing postsecondary markets into new frontiers. The initial idea for an edtech product may not be the product that ultimately resonates with the market.

Don’t forget the business side of developing and scaling a product. A product that is functional based on research and has great marketing and sales will get the customer, according to Yaskin. Figure out business operational practices early on so the company is ready to support customers once a product really takes off.

In case you missed it, in part 1 of this blog series, Duff and Yaskin discuss whether and how digital learning products can be designed with equity at the center. In part 2, they discuss how entrepreneurs can think about who their customers are and what needs they should focus on the most when trying to break into a new market.

View the full video conversation with captions on the Collaborative website.


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Tags: Postsecondary Learning Technology