I've aged out of edtech platforms and watched them sunset. I've sworn them off or recommended them to younger kids.
Maturing as an edtech user is all about getting comfortable with change. Here's what I've realized.
My demand for games has decreased. My brain automatically makes comparisons when I'm in a product. And I've developed the agency to hold onto the tools that work for me, and walk away from the ones that don't.
Learning with edtech games has lost demand
Games used to be an edtech must. And many products I used in my elementary years delivered! Granted, they weren't game-first products, where:
playing is the #1 priority
learning is built around an engaging experience
Instead, my gamified experiences placed games into learning scenarios to try and keep me engaged.
Some edtech products were as close to addictive as a learning product could be. I kept wanting to come back, determined to earn my final ribbon or earn just a few more points. Then I'd be able to buy a new accessory for my avatar and all would be well in my elementary school world.
It wasn't that I wanted to stop learning with games when high school started. There just felt like fewer options. Suddenly, the kiddie experiences I loved were swapped out for muted, mature themes.
I didn't mean to sacrifice games. I just had to find other ways to practice and make progress.
If I enroll in a course today, seeing a game pop up on my screen is certainly not expected
In fact, the limited number of adult edtech games that exist has driven me toward liking other learning methods—including lectures depending on the speaker. That's just me.
But when a game does make an appearance, I try to put my kid hat back on and get into it.
My brain automatically compares edtech products
I didn't know that the edtech industry existed until a little over a year ago.
So you can imagine that when I was learning with different tools as a young kid, I wasn't thinking about how they fit in the marketplace.
I was able to share what I liked and disliked about them, but didn't think to make insightful comparisons.
Now when I use an edtech product, it's hard for me not to frame it among its competitors. After all, market research is a key function of my role in product marketing.
I find myself comparing the strengths and weaknesses of:
overall user experience
levels of personalization
Becoming more capable of analyzing products has given me the opportunity to think about how they're really impacting my progress.
I know when tools work well and when I should walk away
Using edtech to learn didn't start out as a choice for me.
My memory is fuzzy here, but I'm sure differentiated learning experiences were usually available in the products I used in the 00s.
I don't remember having many opportunities to differentiate between products. Here's what I mean.
If there's a platform that's not a good fit for a particular kid, that kid probably hasn't built enough agency to verbalize this. They also won't have the industry knowledge to think of a replacement.
I know I didn't. I learned as best as I could with what I had.
Today, using edtech to learn as an adult has fewer barriers.
As soon as I've decided a platform isn't my style, I have the agency to pivot.
Other options exist. And I know this because I've tried quite a few during my 10+ years of learning with products in the industry.
Channel your edtech kid to find YOUR theme
Think about how your relationship with the edtech industry has changed since you started working in it, from your:
confidence in your role
dedication to impacting kids
The theme I've found in my journey using edtech is an increased sense of agency to:
decide how important game learning is to my progress
think through how products compare to their competition
figure out the best ways for me to learn
Here's my challenge for you. If you could come up with a theme to describe your journey through working in the edtech industry, what would it be?
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