It started with 10 people writing on note cards and taping them to a wall.
About midway through their summer training, the Digital Harbor Foundation’s inaugural class of EdTech fellows thought one piece of their technological education was missing. How could they take everything they’ve learned this summer back to their schools, and not just into their own classrooms?
Taping note cards to a wall was a start. But Don Abrams, the tech director at Digital Harbor Foundation, thought the idea was well suited to a Twitter hashtag: thus, #EdPain was born.
“When you create new technologies or innovation, which may just be a way of doing something, you always start with a clear description of what the pain point is,” says Andrew Coy, co-executive director of the Digital Harbor Foundation. The next steps after identifying that “pain point,” says Coy, is validating the point—whether you’re the only person who has that particular problem—and then assembling a group of people who will work on solving the problem.
The EdPain hashtag was the first step in assembling that group of people. Building out an EdPain website was second. Coy says that having a physical website that lists the EdPains people tweet gives the effort some permanence. “We want it to be in a spot where it doesn’t go away,” he says.
In a week’s time, more than 115 education “pain points” have been documented on the site, with contributions from students, teachers, administrators and parents in 48 states. Right now, each EdPain entry is displayed in the order in which it was tweeted, but soon, says Abrams, the entries on the site will be ranked—and, therefore, moved up or down on the website—according to how many retweets each one receives.
The two benefits readily apparent from the site? For one, says Coy, hackathon participants now have a curated site from which they can select ideas to work on over the course of an energy drink-filled weekend. The other is the fact that each EdPain entry is associated with a zip code contributed by the person writing the pain point.
“The pains, [and] where they come from is what we’re really interested in,” Abrams says. “[We’re] doing it by zip code to be able to drill down where it’s a problem in the city.”