Don’t start with features, start with teachers
IT change in schools
Let’s put that another way, make it less about what it does and more about how it does it. Confused? Sorry, let me go back a bit.
I have been privileged over a number of years to be involved in IT change processes in schools. I’ve seen it all – from small executive teams who make all the decisions to comprehensive processes involving many people at all levels in the school.
One of the things I love to see is when the process of change starts by consulting teachers. I
remember one particular principal who said to me “OK, you can come in and show it to my whole staff – if they think its a good idea to investigate further, we’ll talk some more”. That’s one gutsy principal.
So often IT change is led by IT staff who are not teachers. Sadly, such change usually focuses on features and forgets that, at the end of the day, the teachers are the ones that have to use this ‘cutting edge’ technology. Frankly, if its got silverlighty, portal ning-things, web-SaaS cloud-based hyper-threading, AGP super-video LCD flashing speakers and comes in a black chrome case (machined aluminium is way cooler anyway!), but the teachers find it hard to use – you’ve just thrown good money after folly.
Radical idea coming… (actually, plain common sense, but let my ego be)…instead of starting with a list of features, start by consulting the teachers. Better still, get them to do some of the early stage product research – give them time to get their hands dirty, talk with their colleagues, consult their social networks, play with demos, visit other schools and come back with suggestions. From there, do a show and tell.
You’ll be surprised at how many teachers are more swayed by the how (will it make life easier or harder for me) than what it does. That said, they’ll definitely be interested in what it will do to make help them be more effective both in and out of the classroom.
The best thing about doing it this way – the product you end up with will (likely) be better accepted and take up rates will be higher. The benefits will flow on to students and parents and your money will be well spent.