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Episode 39

Is It Back to the Drawing Board for Most EdTech Companies?

Brief description of the episode

This Tech in EdTech episode features Camden Iliff, VP of Engineering and Product at Apollo Education Systems. Camden emphasizes the importance of stakeholder retention, product team structure, and adaptability in the EdTech age. He emphasizes agile product roadmaps, addressing emerging customer needs, and adapting to changing landscapes.

Key Takeaways:

  • In the niche market of education, hiring qualified product managers and business analysts can be challenging due to the unique complexities of school operations.
  • The preferred approach is to train individuals with education experience to become PMs or BAs, as it is easier to teach them the necessary product management skills than to educate inexperienced PMs about how schools operate.
  • Building effective EdTech products often requires a combination of education expertise and business acumen, with some of the most successful ventures started by teachers or former teachers who brought in business professionals to execute their vision.
  • Many products in the education space suffer when designed solely by product managers with no direct experience in education, as they may not fully grasp the intricate workings and complexities of school operations.
  • Immersion is key when moving into the EdTech industry. Gain hands-on experience by observing teachers in classrooms, interacting with district-level personnel, and understanding the day-to-day challenges they face.
  • Attend trade shows and conferences related to education to learn about industry trends, educators’ interests, and the latest developments in educational technology.
  • Engage with educators and administrators to understand their thought processes and strategic approaches to improving student success.
  • Personal connections with educators can be valuable, but it’s essential to actively seek knowledge and understanding beyond personal relationships.
  • A transformative experience, such as participating in a workshop can provide invaluable perspectives that shape product strategies for the education market.
  • AI and machine learning are transformative technologies that every business, including startups and established companies, should consider incorporating into their plans.
  • The rapidly changing nature of AI technology may lead to investments becoming outdated quickly, so businesses should be cautious about committing too many resources to AI right away.
  • The real value of AI in EdTech products comes from blending AI platforms with existing data to create new features that genuinely benefit teachers, learners, and administrators.
  • AI can be valuable for improving internal operations, such as aiding programmers in code writing, documentation, and support chat-bots, leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness within the organization.

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