UX research and market research both assess the value of your EdTech product for its users. These two distinct groups of researchers have pretty different ideas of what “valuable” actually means — and how it’s measured. Your UX research team determines your product is valuable when it meets the needs of students, instructors, and administrators in learning environments. The central question for UX is whether or not your product is helpful in an educational environment and easy to use. Market researchers, on the other hand, ascertain your product is valuable when your product is purchased. The most important questions for market researchers are, “Will this product sell? And to whom?”
EdTech users expect more of your product than ever before. Not only does your product need to be easy for users to navigate, but it also must facilitate a superior learning experience. UX (user experience) and LX (learning experience) add up to a truly valuable EdTech product in today’s classrooms — and not just for students. It’s important for your team to remember that instructors are learners, too. Instructors need to feel comfortable and confident with your product. And ideally, they will be convinced of your product’s role in the achievement of learning outcomes. Your team needs to prioritize instructors’ engagement with your product — and prove it with exceptional instructor onboarding.
Your EdTech product is just one facet of a greater educational experience. Technology, content, and teaching methods are all essential to creating an optimal situation. And of course, these three facets only become relevant when instructors and students are skillfully using them — to teach and to learn. It’s all too easy to have tunnel vision with your EdTech product. You’re naturally dialed in to the most important principles of UX. You know your product needs to be intuitive, predictable, and familiar for your users to have a seamless interaction. But your focus on good UX can actually erode the learning experience — the very thing you are designing to support.
EdTech product development rarely moves along at a predictable, constant pace. There are phases of frantic activity. And there are phases of watching and waiting. The ebb and flow inherent in your product’s life cycle keeps things interesting — and difficult to properly staff. Now more than ever, striking the right balance with resources is a job unto itself. And you may be considering hiring an outside UX agency to support you. Up to this point, you may not have felt the need for an external UX partner. Not so long ago, your product team probably spent time and energy focusing on nice-to-have features. And you had the capacity to do so. But the EdTech landscape is different now. You have to prioritize the features you know your users require in the post-Covid classroom.
One of the most important continuing conversations you’ll have about your EdTech product is about how it meets accessibility standards. Adhering to accessibility guidelines isn’t just about avoiding penalties. It’s just the right thing to do. All of your users deserve access to the same information, no matter what their physical or mental abilities. The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) are meant to ensure your product’s content is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Making sure your product lives up to those principles is not a one-and-done affair. It requires constant evaluations and improvements. You may need to do an internal accessibility audit to work through small compliance issues. Or you may need to go a step further with a VPAT.