As the founder of an educational technology company, staying close to the issues that matter most to students, teachers, administrators and parents is imperative. There are lots of companies trying to solve problems in education with technology. The fact is, technology can’t solve everything. But to figure out what can be solved with technology requires listening to those who are working in schools day in and day out to understand their needs and design real and enduring solutions to improve teaching and learning.
I was recently introduced to a framework for this purpose called “Jobs to Be Done” or “JTBD.” As an innovator, there’s a part of me that recoils at the idea of asking the customer what solution they want. As Henry Ford is often quoted as saying, ” If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” But there is something to questioning the customer in such a way that you reveal a deeper desire; a desire for what they don’t yet know is possible. And therein lies the potential for innovation.
As I engaged with this framework over the past week and spoke to several local school leaders and teachers, I arrived at three insights:
#1 Health education is reactionary. Principals often look to their teachers to provide health lessons in reaction to school culture issues (sexting, online bullying, suicidal comments). Is this ideal? No, but it’s a reality and an effective solution needs to recognize that a traditional curriculum that requires a “health class” as a construct is often impractical. What teachers really need instant access to the right lesson for the right student at the moment of need.
#2 Schools overwhelmingly “hire” existing staff to teach health. This means principals have to burden a person who already has a full time role in the school – be it a physical education teacher, science teacher, social worker, or whomever they deem in proximity to health – with the added task of being health teacher, regardless of training or certification. This could mean splitting that person’s time, which inevitably means that some level of instruction or student services are compromised. They also hire consultants or curriculum resources (books and other print materials), but consultants are expensive and not available at the moment of need, and traditional curriculum is outdated as soon as it reaches the classroom. The latter part may not be a problem when it comes to relatively stable topics, but it’s a big challenge when it comes to complex and ever-changing health topics.
#3 Finding time in the schedule. After all this, principals have one more struggle; how to fit health education into the curriculum.
So, how does Lessonbee solve these issues? In short, we make it possible for any teacher to find and assign the right health lesson for the right student at the right time in any subject across the curriculum. And, we’re exploring more avenues to improve overall school culture via health education and promotion, like self-assessments, observations, and other sources of data for machine learning algorithms to deliver relevant lesson recommendations to students at the moment of need to prevent health crises from happening.
Innovation and conversation go hand in hand. As an early stage startup, we have the ability to put great ideas into action quickly, and we care about our customer’s challenges and goals. So, how might we help improve health education at your school?
Leave your comments below.
This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn.