What We’ve Learned about Building Successful Education Technology Products

We’ve been working in education technology longer than most — going on eight years. In that time, we’ve collaborated with countless education partners, chatted with thousands of instructors, released hundreds of product updates and conducted a respectable amount of original research.

Our journey hasn’t been easy. We’ve made all sorts of mistakes along the way and learned a ton about what works and what doesn’t.

Now that we’re seasoned pros, we’re going to share these “lessons learned” with you. This is just our experience, so adjust accordingly, and let us know what you’ve been learning, too.

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SAGrader by the Numbers

SAGrader has been helping students learn through writing since 2006. That’s a lot of writing, feedback and revisions!

We thought it would be interesting to take a look at all the work we’ve supported up to this point. (Thanks to our development team for putting together these numbers!)

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SAGrader as a Learning Analytics Platform

We were pleased to take part last week in MBS Direct Digital’s learning analytics webinar series. (You can listen to the webinar by clicking here.) Big data and analytics are hot topics in education as teachers and administrators sift through the abundance of platforms and programs that leverage learning data into effective strategies for student learning. As Rob Reynolds, Director of MBS Direct Digital, noted during the presentation, the ubiquity of big data in education today presents educators with big learning and teaching opportunities.

But how can students and teachers take advantage of analytics and turn disparate data into positive learning outcomes? The answer to that question depends in part on how teachers have structured their classroom and lesson plans and the goals they have set for student performance. For teachers of content area courses who include writing in their classes, here are a few ways SAGrader is used to collect writing analytics and turn data into actionable strategies to increase student and teacher success. …continue reading

5 Tips for Giving Students Better Feedback On Content Area Writing

Few practices promote student learning as efficiently as well-formed writing assignments paired with personal, constructive feedback. Of course, giving useful feedback can be very time consuming and has limited value if students don’t read or act on it. It’s easy for teachers to get frustrated correcting the same errors over and over again, without seeing much change in student performance. Students can get discouraged by feedback that is vague, critical or overwhelming.

By following some simple feedback best practices, instructors can mitigate these communication challenges. This article presents feedback tips in a clear, practical format that you can quickly absorb and apply to your classroom.

While an instructor can (and should) give feedback on a variety of student behaviors through various channels, the guidelines collected here focus on providing written feedback on a student’s written work for a content-area class.

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New Features Highlight SAGrader’s Summer of Product Development

Our users are well into the 2012 school year after a fast-paced summer at SAGrader. Over the last few months, and after gathering feedback from our customers, our product development team built new features that promise to make the SAGrader experience for both students and instructors even better.

Everything we do is meant to help students learn course material at a high level. We are excited to introduce the following features to students and instructors this school year to help our users achieve academic success!

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5 Ways SAGrader Will Empower Your Students

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We hear a lot of great things from our dedicated instructors on how SAGrader helps them save time and effort. Instructors, however, are just one piece of the puzzle. Just as often, we receive accolades from students who love using SAGrader for its dynamic feedback and rock-solid effectiveness in helping them get better grades. It’s like having a personal tutor on-demand to help with their assignments.

So what kinds of benefits do students see with SAGrader? Read on to find out how SAGrader can…

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Communicating Product Differentiation

When marketing a product to potential customers, it can be difficult to clearly communicate how your product differs from others. It sounds easy enough but defining and communicating product differences is not a trivial task. The failure to explicitly characterize how your product is unique and different often results in severe opportunity costs that include missed sales and lost relationships with loyal customers or channel partners.

Product differentiation is an issue we confront every day at SAGrader. It is apparent in product development strategy when determining which features to build or not build, and it is grossly visible on the front lines of marketing and selling our product to our target market.

Take a look at the following hypothetical conversation that might take place between our marketing team and a potential partner.

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Relax, We’re Super Secure

We take security very seriously. It’s important our student and instructor users know their data is private and secure.

In addition to maintaining our high internal standards we recently got some outside help.

We’re proud to report SAGrader’s completion of an “Application Security Assessment” by the Information Security & Access Management (ISAM) team, Division of IT, University of Missouri.

As part of this process, we met the security requirements to be added to the approved list for the entire UM system.

The process included interviews with our staff, policy audits and thorough application scans to find any security weaknesses.

A big thanks to the ISAM team for helping us maintain the highest security standards for our users.

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