Digital platforms where teachers can create content and communicate with one another about lessons are scooping up venture capital and transforming the edTech marketplace.
Investors currently favor teacher-founded companies, like veteran brand Coursera and newcomer Fiveable. Meanwhile, content platforms like Teachers Pay Teachers are growing in leaps and bounds, too.
This growth and investment trend represents both a business opportunity and a significant shift in the teacher user persona. With the right strategy, you can assess how your own brand should get in on the ground floor of this industry-wide change.
Whether your existing teachers are interested in creating and sharing content, learning from one another, or both, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about designing for an emerging user: the teacher content creator.
Here’s how to get started.
Shifts in the Teacher User Persona: From Teacher to Content Creator
Before making a significant investment in a moderated community or content-sharing platform, gather data about how the pandemic has affected your teacher persona.
User research findings will reveal the best ways to collaborate with teacher content creators and help you invest in a long-term solution for your brand.
Over the past two years, our own research has uncovered the following:
- Teachers have become more sophisticated users of edTech.
- They are quick to identify needs and come up with new digital solutions.
- They’re experiencing more barriers to job satisfaction than ever, including pandemic burnout and an increased desire to quit.
These factors will affect how you research and design your learning tools, as well as how you collaborate with teachers and build community around your products.
If your UX research findings confirm that teachers are burned out and frustrated, you can support them more effectively in your existing learning tools by:
- improving onboarding experiences
- providing better tools for reporting that create more transparency for administrators and parents
- integrating communication tools for reaching parents more effectively
- ensuring your features reduce teachers’ workloads as much as possible, saving them time
By lessening the effects of burnout for your user base, you’ll make your product easier to use and continue to build brand loyalty. This is especially important if you’re planning to increase engagement by designing a digital content-sharing platform. Either way, lowering the barriers to use for your product is always a win-win.
The Benefits of Building a Teacher Community into Your edTech Product Ecosystem
Teachers are experts at learning from one another. And, in the spirit of education, not all teachers are interested in monetizing their services or content area knowledge. (Though some, as Teachers Pay Teachers illustrates, most certainly are!)
Within the parameters of a branded learning community, teachers are often interested in sharing free content that supports new instructors. Built with intention, your edTech company could provide a digital community for teachers where this type of content sharing happens.
When teachers feel they can turn to your site for solutions to their most common problems, your users perceive the authentic value of your brand. This produces many benefits that support business goals in edTech, including:
- A core loyalty base of customers who implement your tool with greater fidelity and see better results in their classrooms.
- A great feedback system for your customer success team and product owners.
- A business opportunity to identify and address teacher-identified gaps in UX design or content.
- An impressive sales tool that influences buying decisions.
Remember: developing any kind of digital learning community is unlike product design and maintenance. It will require not only upfront investment but different sets of skills, including moderation and professional development support. As you build your community and brand loyalty, these investments will pay off in the years to come.
How the Boys & Girls Club Built a Digital Community for Art Teachers
The Boys & Girls Club of America made just such an investment in order to support their arts teachers, who felt isolated within individual clubs and disconnected from the BGCA community.
On their new arts website, BGCA Creates, BGCA staff now generate prompts and drive conversations designed to help art instructors work more successfully in their clubs. The site also highlights staff and student work, shares best practices for art instruction, and helps with quality assurance.
But the site represents more than just BGCA “shop talk.” It’s also a celebration of art itself, which builds engagement with teachers and students, who are excited to work with real art practitioners.
As the Boys & Girls Club demonstrates, building a user community online works best when you have dedicated moderators who can focus and facilitate conversations around issues that will ignite conversation.
If you’re considering developing a community around your edTech brand, you may wish to conduct further user experience research on the following:
- What are the issues that your users are most passionate about?
- What kind of teacher-generated content are they most interested in making or sharing?
- What other community features (like sharing teaching tips and tricks) would they find most engaging?
Investing in User-Generated Content, Quality Assurance, and Marketplaces for Content
As the rise of Teachers Pay Teachers has shown, teachers are already addressing pain points within edTech products at the grassroots level. The many new rubrics, assessments, worksheets, and curricula suggestions that crop up on content-sharing platforms address a common need in the educator community.
If your users are already creating content on their own, you may wish to develop a platform where you can sell supplemental digital resources, learn from sales data, and increase your revenue. This is an upfront investment that will allow you to build a stronger, more informed user base and data-driven ways to learn from your own teacher community.
Community moderation is even more important if you’d like to develop a platform where users create and share their own content. By introducing an added element of quality assurance to your community, you’ll successfully support professional learning and content development for all users on your platform.
After all, the more teachers who implement your curriculum or digital learning tool with fidelity, the more easily you can show efficacy at scale. This helps to build trust in your product and works to convince administrators and other educators of the value of your solution. At the same time, you’ll build a community that deeply supports and engages with your tool as they create content designed to support it.
Are you expanding into a branded community or content-sharing platform for educators? Contact us below to find out how we can help!