From wikis to blogs to learning management systems, and through to synchronous live-stream education, educational technology has developed over the decades into a heavily integrated piece of everyday life. Even in the years prior to the distance learning required as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, informational instruction and education were already being implemented across digital platforms. (Think: continuing education programs, hybrid college courses, homeschool programs, etc.)
This boom in digital instruction and the edtech industry isn’t set to slow down any time soon, so this may be a fortuitous time to consider a career in edtech! If this is in the plans for you, here are three simple and practical tips to make the change.
Know exactly what you want
At first glance, the edtech field is overwhelming. There’s no charted way to break into the field, and the options within the industry are numerous and distinct. Your most strategic first step will seem obvious: identify exactly what you want to do. Are you interested in curriculum planning or research and development, or project management or instruction? Or are you attracted to the “tech” aspects more than “ed”? Like any other career change, the best place to start is to establish exactly what you’re looking for.
If this is up in the air or you’re not sure how to narrow down your choices, start by taking a course of your own to discover which skills are most interesting to you and which paths you can rule out.
Consider, too, the impact you hope to have on students. If you’re looking to directly work with students, perhaps a live instruction position is best, while a role like technology development may keep you more distant from the “boots on the ground” work and teaching.
Highlight your skills and accomplishments
No matter what field you’re coming from, you have applicable, transferable skills to bring to an edtech career — you just need to know how to frame them. Take stock of what certifications you have and your active responsibilities from previous jobs, and learn how to describe them in a way that tailors to the new opportunities you’re seeking. For example, if you’re a former teacher looking for a sales position, the time you spent instructing your students can be well framed as a proficiency in making presentations and speaking in front of groups.
In addition to reapplying your current skills, you may need to hone some new knowledge to break into the position you want. It’s wise to have at least a basic understanding of the key elements of edtech; while you don’t necessarily need to know how to code (unless that’s the job you’re looking for!) you should have a decent working knowledge of major technologies. Similarly, some broad-strokes understanding of the educational system — as it applies to students, teachers, and principals/superintendents — will be highly valuable.
Expand your network
Research the kinds of companies you’re interested in, follow new topics on LinkedIn, and attend webinars or events as much as possible. Edtech advances are happening at the startup, school, district, and donor levels, and gaining familiarity with a range of experiences within the field will give you a leg up. This, too, will get your name in front of key players and help you make connections who can help you prepare even more to make a career change. ‘
Even if you aren’t able to make a connection with edtech movers and shakers, keep a finger on the pulse of who the thought leaders are. Discover what conversations they’re having, and learn how you can join in!