Parents; Meet Startups

A few months ago, I sat down with John Halloran and Alex Weinberg of SnappSchool and we began talking about the importance of the parent audience in the field of educational technology. It seemed to us that parents are often the missing link! Kids are in school for a portion of their day, but after school is over they head home. It is of the utmost importance that the voices of parents are further incorporated into conversations surrounding educational technology. Edtech companies need to be working closely with parents to get them in the know about tools that are available, and to educate them on how to use new technology at home with their children.

In an attempt to begin to solve this problem in a small way, we decided to host a parent gathering to get feedback on how best to reach parents.┬áLast Thursday night, we hosted what John coined as: “Parents; Meet Startups.” It was an interesting and productive evening and I hope that it was just the beginning of this very important conversation.

We had 3 startups present their products to approximately 15 parents: SnappSchool, Mixel, and ShowMe. Parents were able to:

  • See the apps in action
  • Offer feedback about the best way to communicate with parents
  • Ask questions
  • Speak with staff from each of the projects

It was really helpful to have parents offer honest feedback. I’m sure that each of us walked away with different major takeaways…here are some of mine:

  1. Parents are more likely to use technology that their children have tried in school so getting these tools into the classroom is a MUST!
  2. When kids come home excited about new learning tools, it peaks parent interest.
  3. The key word of the night seemed to be TRUST…Parents are more likely to try out a new learning tool if they hear about it from other parents or a teacher who they trust.

Parents have such a valuable perspective and in my opinion, it is not heard often enough. It is so important that we talk to the people who are on the front lines: students, teachers and parents. We need to engage these voices into conversations about educational technology and innovation. Being around parents in a comfortable environment where they felt free to express themselves was quite powerful and I hope to be able to do it again soon!

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