As we develop educational products—platforms, technologies, courses—how can we ensure that we are effectively addressing the needs of learners and educators?
Qualitative research can be an useful and affordable way to ensure product quality, and fine tune deliverables to create the best learning experience possible. With focus groups and user testing, we can:
And while qualitative research can drive favorable results for individual products, the long-term big picture outcomes can be even more beneficial.
For instance, A/B testing is an area where we can combine quantitative (data-driven) and qualitative (opinion, perception, motivation) research to develop improved methodologies, which can then be applied across product lines.
The potential cost-to-benefit ratio here is compelling. By performing analysis on a limited set of products, we can draw broadly applicable conclusions.
For instance, perhaps the research will tell us that learning outcomes improve when we include more spaced repetition exercises in our courses. Or maybe we'll find out that the language usage in our courses is too formal, resulting in disengagement. Maybe we'll find that adding a gamification element drives significant improvements in retention.
Here's a key point: the successful edtech companies of the future will be validating their strategies with reliable data and user studies. There's no way around this fact. We're engaged in an evolutionary process, and the winners will be basing their decisions on reliable evidence.
As an example, just this week at Mosaico Solutions we are involved in a study involving IT Directors at K-12 schools around the country. During our video interviews, we will be talking to individuals who make buying decisions at the district level. In the process, we will be learning about the technologies they are currently using, and how those technologies are deployed in the classroom.
We will also be drilling down into the processes behind buying decisions—who makes the decisions, and what motivates them, constrains them, or otherwise influences these decisions.
From a marketing and sales perspective, this kind of information leads to a real, evidence-based focus on the customer, as opposed to an approach that is based on conjecture.
And in the long run, basing business decisions on validated, customer-centered information is the best way to grow your bottom line.