Problem: How does a news literacy app become a teaching tool?
Fiskkit is a unique app that let’s anyone close read the news. As a fledgling startup, we need as many new users are we can get. I knew that, repackaged, our product could really help instructors teach close reading and critical thinking. How can we get teachers to actually start using our product in their classrooms?
Analysis: Teachers are reluctant to change their habits
As a former university lecturer, I knew that once a teacher has designed and taught a course before, they’re often loathe to make any new changes to their system. In addition, many teachers–especially at the university level–are already weary dealing with frustrating course management products. To convince them, I’d have to answer their skepticism and prove our product’s value off-the-bat.
Solution: Make engaging lesson plans to build trust in Fiskkit
Emailers and marketing pitches alone wouldn’t be enough. I knew that I’d have to get creative. What better way to generate teacher signups than by removing the biggest barriers to adoption? A strong and brief lesson plan might both interest the weary pedagogue looking for a quick syllabus fix, while also educating them on Fiskkit Classroom’s unique tools through example.
Let me show you how I designed one of my lesson plans:
I had to give Fiskkit Classroom a brand identity through a unique logomark that could clearly differentiate it from the open Fiskkit site–one that conveyed its new use to a new audience. With my limited toolkit I chose the casual and handwritten Amatic font for the “Classroom” logo–perfect for teachers and college students. I used Amatic in my headers while repeating Fiskkit’s unique two color tone to convey a brand-consistent style.
I knew that my lesson plan had to be one page, well-organized, and directed to what teachers needed to know and when.
“Setup“: I made sure to provide clear links to our dedicated set-up guide.
“Objectives”: Perhaps the lesson plan’s most crucial element, I knew that the better I defined the objectives the better I would communicate Fiskkit Classroom’s value to teachers. These had to be short and specific with strong verbs defining important skills.
“Materials”: Our biggest hurdle would come down to materials. Fiskkit Classroom allows teachers to take any current article in the news and turn it into a shared document for students to comment and tag. Without an article to teach, instructors would easily forget our product. My solution was to create a library of current articles, sorted into theme, core lessons, and source.
“Definition”: Because one of Fiskkit Classroom’s key value propositions is it’s tagging feature, I crafted a lesson around this tool. In this case I thought it important to define “biased wording” both for students and for teachers. After all, if teachers and students are not on the same page our Fiskkit Classroom analytics could be compromised.
“Example”: Good examples are the absolute backbone of good communication. Here I model exactly how I believe teachers should convey this lesson.
“Assignment”: This portion was quite straight forward: just teach it.
“Evaluation”: Finally, I could not miss a great opportunity to highlight Fiskkit Classroom’s unique features. By showing teachers how they could use the analysis function to track student growth, I could both better sell the product and better address teacher’s reluctance towards adoption.
As of late May, Fiskkit Classroom is still under construction. However, we have circulated these lesson plans to teachers, instructors, and course designers across the country. We’ve received overwhelmingly positive interest and feedback in the product. These lesson plans have been so successful that we’ve converted potential new users into strategic partners who’re now stumping on our behalf to their colleagues and friends.