Panel: From Spark to Sprints

Sean Oakes bio picture Sean Oakes

On January 24th, I had the privilege of moderating a panel to discuss what inspires a really exceptional edTech product. Megan Artin and Adam Young joined me to discuss everything from the broad conceptual purposes of educational technology (The Spark) to the nuts and bolts of how to manage large, enterprise product development (The Sprints).

What a great group for the discussion! Megan is an articulate and seasoned Product Owner and president of ArtWright Ventures. Adam is an engineering leader in the education world and president of Atomic Software. The night was sponsored by the NYEdTech Meetup, and Mike Kleba and Jessica Millstone emceed and coordinated the fun event.

While the three of us have collaborated for years, many of my questions for the panelists centered around a specific product our companies developed for Scholastic called Literacy Pro. We all agreed that the process we followed had rendered remarkable results and was worth examining. Through discussion and infographics, we managed to distill down the elements that made the process so special.

Some of the most lively parts of the talk were moments when we didn’t all agree. Adam Young held steadfast that once the “The Spark” is established, that is, the big guiding idea that defines a product’s specialness and purpose, it should never change. I contend that the Spark always evolves during the development cycle, as teams revisit its meaning.

Thanks to the over 70 attendees who braved the rain and cold to come out, network and ask smart, poignant questions. We couldn’t have fit everyone without Atomic’s large, cheery space. Also a shout out to Team Backpack, who worked behind the scenes to make sure everything ran smoothly and looked great.

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