Is There a Disconnect Between Schools and EdTech Providers?

by | 4 Oct 23

The EdTech industry has experienced a whirlwind of change in recent years, and the future is looking incredibly promising. Just take a look at these mind-boggling statistics:

  • Business-Leader reported that the COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures resulted in a whopping 72% growth in the EdTech market in 2020, with the UK stealing the show by attracting 41% of all EdTech investment coming into Europe.
  • HolonIQ recorded that global investment in EdTech reached three times pre-COVID-19 levels in 2021, with over $20 billion of funding fueling startups around the world. It’s like the industry is on a rocket ship to success!

But is there a disconnect between schools and those selling EdTech solutions? It would appear that way with a recent BESA report finding that only 8% of educators trust the claims made directly by EdTech companies. On top of the above statistic, the DfE 2021 EdTech survey reported teachers wanted evidence on the benefits of technology use in education, and they also stated that 50% of UK teachers identified the main barrier to using EdTech as a lack of staff knowledge about what products do.

In my opinion, this all points towards a disconnect between the buyer (schools) and the seller (EdTech providers). This blog aims to unpack that disconnect and share how we can overcome it.

What are the main barriers to using EdTech in the next 10 years?

There are a number of barriers that could potentially prevent the successful integration of EdTech in schools over the next decade. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Limited budget and resources: Schools often have limited budgets for purchasing new technology or training staff on how to use it effectively. This can lead to hesitation in investing in EdTech products, despite their potential benefits.
  • Lack of knowledge and understanding: As mentioned earlier, the DfE 2021 EdTech survey found that 50% of UK teachers identified a lack of staff knowledge as a main barrier to using EdTech. This highlights the need for effective training and support for educators in order to integrate technology into their teaching practices effectively.
  • Lack of evidence: As the saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding”. Schools need to see concrete evidence that EdTech products are effective in improving student learning outcomes before investing in them. This lack of evidence can make it challenging for EdTech providers to sell their products to schools.

What does the data tell us?

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The UK attracted 41% of all EdTech investment coming into Europe.

%

Only 8% of educators trust the claims made by EdTech companies.

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of EdTech tools are estimated by educators to be poor fits or poorly implemented.

%

of UK teachers believe technology has or will contribute to improved pupil attainment.

%

of UK teachers identify the main barrier to using EdTech as lack of staff knowledge about products.

How do you build trust between EdTech creators and users?

Building trust with schools as an EdTech provider is crucial for success. Here are some tips to help establish and maintain that trust:

  1. Be transparent: Share detailed information about your products, their effectiveness, and any limitations or potential challenges.
  2. Provide evidence: Back up your claims with concrete data and evidence of how your products have positively impacted student learning.
  3. Engage with educators: Connect with teachers, administrators, and other education professionals to understand their needs and gather feedback on how to improve your products.
  4. Offer support: Ensure that you have a strong customer support system in place to assist schools with any technical issues or questions they may have.
  5. Foster partnerships: Collaborate with schools and educators to co-create and refine your products, building a sense of trust and partnership in the process.
  6. Develop referral models: there’s no stronger endorsement of your offer than one that comes from your loyal and happy customers. If you want to build trust, and you are doing the right things, then your customers can help.

Why does evidence matter?

Despite the massive investments, educators have serious concerns about the implementation and effectiveness of EdTech tools. A whopping 85% of these tools are poorly executed, leaving teachers sceptical and hesitant to embrace them fully.

In fact, a recent survey revealed that only 8% of educators trust the claims made by EdTech companies. They want solid evidence of the benefits before fully committing to these tools. And who can blame them?

The Department for Education’s 2021 EdTech survey highlighted that teachers are hungry for proof of the positive impact of technology in education. They crave concrete data that supports the use of EdTech in classrooms.

To add to the challenge, a significant barrier identified by UK teachers in 2020 was the lack of staff knowledge about what these products actually do. It’s clear that educators need to be well-informed and trained to utilise these tools effectively.

So, amidst the flurry of investments and promising technologies, it’s crucial for EdTech vendors to step up their game. They must provide educators with the evidence they seek and address the barriers that hinder successful implementation.

It’s time to bridge the gap between EdTech companies and educators, ensuring that the tools truly make a difference in classrooms across the UK. Let’s empower our educators with knowledge, support, and meaningful solutions that genuinely transform education for the better.

Evidence matters when:

  • Assessing effectiveness – Evidence is like our trusty compass, guiding us on the path to determining whether an EdTech tool is the real deal. We’re talking about improving learning outcomes, boosting engagement, and firing up motivation levels. But that’s not all! Evidence can also shine a light on those areas where a tool might need a little extra love and improvement. So, let’s uncover the power of evidence in the world of EdTech! 🚀💡
  • Making decisions – Evidence-based decision-making is critical in education. Evidence can inform decisions about which EdTech tools to adopt, how to implement them into the classroom, lecture hall or home and how to evaluate their impact.
  • Building trust – There are a number of ways you can build trust between your business and prospects or customers, but ultimately, they all boil down to you building genuine relationships with those you can help.
  • Measuring impact – Evidence can help evaluate the impact of EdTech tools on student learning outcomes, teacher effectiveness, and institutional performance. This can inform future investments in EdTech and improve the quality of education.

Five tips for strengthening the connection between your business and buyers (Schools)

  1. Always prioritise the relationship – Every customer has been a prospect at some point, and it’s important that you build a solid foundation upon which you can build together. In my experience, that starts right at the beginning. Focus on each and every individual and understand them and their problems. Some you will be able to help, and some you won’t do it right, and either way, you will have gained a connection.
  2. Find the problem – Your connection and relationship with a school must start with being interested in their problems and then assessing whether you can help solve them. Trying to sell without identifying and solving a problem for the client will contribute to the 8% figure previously mentioned, and come back to bite you in the end.
  3. Don’t overlook the evidence – With just 8% of educators trusting the claims of EdTech companies, evidence has never been more important. Schools want to see that you can back up your claims and aren’t willing to take a long list of unsubstantiated claims as evidence that your product works.
  4. Provide great customer support – The first step to generating referrals is to ensure that you look after your current customer base in the right way. Listen to them and support them to get maximum use from your solution, and you won’t go far wrong. Remember, this starts with onboarding.
  5. Implement a referral model – Once you have demonstrated your commitment to customers and they are gaining maximum benefit from your offer, you can ask them for a case study or, even better, ask them to refer you to other schools they think will benefit. This approach takes time, but considering the previously mentioned 8%, it’s time well spent.

Conclusion

In conclusion, selling EdTech products to schools in the UK requires a strong focus on building trust and relationships with educators. Evidence is crucial in gaining their trust and showcasing the effectiveness of your tools. You can strengthen the connection between your business and buyers by prioritising each customer, providing excellent support, and implementing a referral model. Ultimately, it’s essential to identify and solve your clients’ problems and continuously strive to improve their experience with your product or solutions. By doing so, you can make schools believe in the power and impact of EdTech tools, leading to successful adoption and implementation in classrooms across the UK. So let’s continue to bridge the gap between EdTech companies and educators, working together towards a brighter future for education.

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