I didn't have SaaS preferences in elementary school. I couldn't have even told you what that meant.
Using edtech products didn't start out as a choice for me. But I knew what it felt like to be engaged. Energy from my elementary-aged hand made furious clicks with my computer mouse.
Once I learned edtech was more than games, but product suites and an entire industry, my likes shifted.
I went from thinking about my personal needs as a user to the potential the industry has to impact all kids.
Here's how branding, UX, and learning outcomes impacted who I wanted to learn from, and later where I wanted to work.
The education brands that spoke to me
I didn't know what made for a good education brand in 2nd grade. So while I never typed "best edtech for 8-year-olds" into Google, I could operate based on instinct.
When I was assigned mandatory assignments in my school's computer lab I was drawn to kid-friendly branding.
In my world, which was already filled with cartoons and stuffed animals, kiddie branding elements felt fun, familiar, and inviting.
These likes didn't change as I became an older edtech user. Or when I started looking for edtech jobs.
Once I realized I wanted to work in edtech, environments with fun, kiddie energy still mattered to me.
This wasn't a must, but a symbolic gesture made by companies to show that they centered kids in their work.
The education (company) experiences I was drawn to
If I was going to log on to a computer to learn, I wanted to feel like I was logging onto Club Penguin. I wanted to have fun. I wanted games.
Logic games. Memory games. Time trials where I raced against the clock. And competitions where I raced against kids I knew, as well as strangers.
Points, ribbons, and trophies made the learning experiences worth my while. Not because I needed a Gen Z participation medal. But earning just one motivated me to continue blooming into a ravenous learner.
Games empowered me to make decisions and have authority. Some were even worth taking on the road: in the car to grandma's house, or home after dance class.
Games continued to influence my journey from edtech user to K-12 edtech worker. Not only is cold-applying for jobs a bit of a game, but it was important for me to target companies that valued them.
From a wider lens, I looked for places that convinced me they were truly putting in the work to shape young minds like mine once was. I wanted the edtech company I worked for to have the potential to leave such an impact on them, that they'll be able to remember them years from now. Hopefully for leaving a positive impact.
I know what that feels like now and those memories make me smile.
I didn't expect to truly understand the company culture of any place I was hired until I was boots on the ground, working there. But job apps and company sites do offer decent clues. Hints at whether or not kids, versus vanity, are at the heart of their mission.
The outcomes I wanted to achieve
Fun was my main motivation for playing games as an elementary learner.
In high school, the outcomes I wanted expanded beyond fun. I constantly wanted to achieve more. Answer questions more accurately. See my digital practice translate into higher scores on homework and tests.
I'd like to think that I'm now building upon my high school goals as a new worker in the edtech space. I'm still drawn to robust branding and mission. But I want more. I want efficacy studies to back up solid marketing efforts.
Because an edtech brand that's proven to work feels unstoppable.
Channel your edtech kid
What types of edtech products impacted your learning experience for better or worse?
Think about how your product preferences changed over time. Did this affect where you decided to work in the edtech industry?
If you're drawing a blank that's okay. It can take some time to reactivate those kid learning years.
Subscribe to the Channel Your Edtech Kid blog here to do just that! Receive the free monthly roundup of posts and a challenge to channel your edtech kid.