A New Found Respect for Teachers

Science teachers having fun at the NSTA show.

For the past year I helped launch Legends of Learning as cofounder and CMO. While I have worked with several education brands before, Legends represents my first dedicated full-time experience. Marketing learning games to middle school science teachers has given me a new-found respect for how hard teachers work.

In addition to the hours they spend at school, teachers often work nights and yes, weekends to prepare lessons for their classes, learn about new teaching methods, grading, and, oh yeah, answering parent and administrative correspondence. In short, teachers work hard.

Time Spent

O

Teachers invest time not only in the classroom with today’s youth, but also exploring the vast amount of content and education solutions online. Teaching is often a 60-hour per week job, or more.

In spite of the numerous companies generating curriculum content, it can be extraordinarily difficult to find quality materials in this 21st century, post-textbook world. Teachers spend as much as five hours a week researching content for their classroom.

Teachers will invest more time finding content for subjects that are not over-tested for state and national standards, such as science (where Legends of Learning fits in), social studies, language, and the arts. These subject areas are underserved bu vendors. Most vendors build content for English and math since districts, charter school networks, and schools are incentivized to excel in math and English by our current education laws.

Teachers’ research processes extend beyond actually finding potential content; they also have to thoroughly vet it to see if it will fit in their classroom. Think about how much time we are talking about here. These are startup-level hours on a teacher’s salary.

Think about how much time we are talking about here. These are start-up hours on a teacher’s salary.

Sure, they get summers “off,” but not nearly to the extent most of us think. Districts and private schools have teacher training for weeks prior to the students’ first day. Many teachers go to Edcamps and conferences over the summer for professional development or PD as they call it.

To add insult to injury, schools are often underfunded. Most teachers invest some of their own money to buy classroom supplies and explore professional development because they want to do their job.

A Disaggregated Inundated Community

National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes speaks to our ambassadors at ISTE.

What about sharing content found with each other online? Surely that would save time searching, and maybe even help teachers find resources their peers have already tested.

While this already occurs on a micro level, teachers don’t have a central location like Yelp to read each other’s reviews online.

K-12 education is inherently local. Teacher communities are often limited to their district or perhaps state. Online communities develop based on edtech used, social networks, and learning management system platforms, which vary greatly. Often boasting huge numbers, these teacher networks are quiet with little visible activity.

That makes well-connected, internet-savvy teachers who are well connected online highly valuable in some ways. Tech companies have figured that out, and now seek “ed influencers” to help spread the word about Some say this raises ethical issues. As someone in the space, teachers deserve any extra scratch they can make.

And that’s not because Legends of Learning pays its Ambassadors. We don’t. We incentivize them with free access to our platform, company swag, and funding for trips to PD events and conferences. Payments are strictly for our content reviewers, and we do not find those teacher consultants through our influencer networks.

In my book, if teachers can get a tech company to pay them for their efforts and insights, good on them. They deserve the extra dollars because work hard and are underpaid for their very important role in society: Educating the future leaders of our communities.

Over the long term teachers work this hard because they care about the children they educate. It’s unfortunate that more in society don’t understand the effort teachers put forth for their communities. But I do now, and that’s why I respect them so much more.

The Devolving Civility Situation

Social Media Tensions

This post was almost titled “Eating Kawasaki,” but the issue extends beyond Twitter behavior and influencers. The general state of online conversation continues to devolve into a snarky, nasty tar pit, in turn impacting the outside world by destroying real relationships.

That should not be a surprise, people who exist online interact in real life. As bad manners become the norm online, they inevitably affect their real life relationships.

A recent study reported by Reuters and Marketing Pilgrim, showed that “78 percent of 2,698 people reporting an increase in rudeness online with people having no qualms about being less polite virtually than in person.” The above infographic shows more factoids from the study.
Continue reading

Will Amazon Respect Its Kindle Fire Customers?

The Amazon Kindle Fire launched with great success this holiday season. Sales have outpaced Amazon’s forecasts, and manufacturing has stepped up. But the iPad competitor has quality issues with more than 30% of buyers rating the device negatively to neutral (1 to 3 stars).

KindleFire

The New York Times ran an extensive piece about customers many Fire foibles. In it, Amazon promises an over the air update this week (one that has yet to arrive).

My 3 star experience with the Fire matches these less than thrilled customers. A suddenly dead Fire in the middle of a road trip prompted a tour of the Amazon site and resetting the device. Further issues include its movie watching capabilities, in turn turning me back to the iPad as the preferred, portable, long-form viewing device.

As Amazon seeks ubiquity with its less than perfect Fire, the negative reviews continue to rack up on the site. And now more media are reporting about it. When you see the product on Amazon, it is listed as a 4 star product, not at all representative of the significant minority of dissatisfaction.

Half

Negative reviews are left unanswered by Amazon’s customer service team, with no private email or interaction, something social media users are quite familiar with as half of corporate brands ignore comments on their own pages. Amazon seems to have taken a software product attitude of we’ll fix it later or as we go, and you’ll have to deal with it.

One has to wonder if Amazon’s slow response can succeed in the face of the negative undercurrent. If the Kindle marketing strategy is all about ubiquity through low-cost sales, then the fastest way to ensure success is not just to sell a lot of Fires, but to quickly address customer service issues to enhance and strengthen word of mouth marketing. That means respecting your customers, even the ones who have had a negative experience.

What do you think about the Kindle Fire?