Strategies for Supporting Overwhelmed Educators in the Age of EdTech
In an educational landscape where educators often find themselves overwhelmed by the demands of the modern classroom, making sure your product or service alleviates stress, saves time, and supports educator well-being is not just a luxury but a necessity.
In less than a decade, we’ve observed a rapid expansion of educational technology, forcing educators and school staff to grapple with an array of tools addressing a multitude of needs. From 2016 to 2023, the average number of edtech tools used per district has risen from 300 to roughly 2,500, an 8x increase over time. During the 2022-23 school year alone, educators accessed an average of 42 unique edtech tools. While emerging technologies have the potential to improve the process and practice of teaching and learning, they also require time and attention to incorporate these tools into everyday use.
Moreover, according to a survey by the RAND Corporation, educators work an estimated 53 hours a week—seven more hours than the average working adult. While educators’ job-related stress has returned to levels before the COVID-19 pandemic, their overall well-being still lags behind that of other working adults. Educators' note that their top sources of job-related stress include supporting student academic progress and managing administrative tasks.
Given the growing demands placed on educators and the shrinking amount of time they have for improving their practice, simply adding more tools to their toolkit won't necessarily make their lives easier. In fact, without proper guidance and support, these tools can become just "another thing" on their already lengthy to-do list, and often get pushed to the bottom, left unused or misunderstood.
The Impact of AI on Educator Well-Being
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to be a double-edged sword for educators. On one hand, companies are embedding AI features and supplemental aids into their products to assist educators in various aspects of their work, from generating instructional ideas and creating lessons to automating administrative tasks. These tools hold great promise in streamlining tasks and freeing up time so they can be more present with students, and restore their joy in the profession.
However, there’s a big difference between having access to a tool, and knowing how best to use it. Like all emerging technologies, there’s going to be a period of iterative experimentation— full of half-baked ideas, wasted effort, and unfulfilled promises. Only with time will best practices emerge. Instead of burdening already overwhelmed educators with figuring this out for you, hire a team that comes from the classroom with the expertise necessary to accomplish this. What educators need most is the instructional rationale and concrete examples of how your product saves them time, reduces their workload, and contributes to their overall well-being.
Addressing the Needs of Educators to Enhance Well-Being
So, how can you truly support educators in this digital age? The answer lies in providing just-in-time and real-world instructional strategies or use cases that help educators understand how and why your product actually saves them time and makes their job easier. Beyond that, here are a few additional steps you can take to make sure your product helps educators improve their well-being:
- Reflect on current supports for educators. Begin by examining your existing strategies for supporting educators and staff time, use, and overall well-being. Consider how you currently equip them with the knowledge and skills required to harness the full potential of your product or service. Ensure that your approach goes beyond basic onboarding or implementing chatbots for technical issues or support.
- Align your priorities to educator needs. Focus on how you can empower educators to utilize your tools effectively and efficiently at just the right moment of use. There must be a strong emphasis on digital pedagogy and practical use, rather than just giving product tips to build technical capacity, for educators to see value in using your product.
- Make your product more intuitive through user-centric design. Evaluate the best placement for these resources so that educators have access to them “just-in-time” rather than trying to navigate through your product. Your user interface should be intuitive for different kinds of users (i.e., educators and students should have tailored experiences), minimize the learning curve so educators can experience success quickly, and use a familiar nomenclature or workflow to help them understand context and build confidence quickly.
These strategies empower educators to not only survive but thrive in the digital age, ultimately leading to a healthier work-life balance and an educational environment where both educators and students can flourish.
At Clarity, we have the expertise as former educators to help you enhance your tools and services to better meet the needs of time-crunched and overwhelmed education professionals. Contact us for an initial consultation about how we can help you address the wellness needs of educators through our proven and effective approach.