Creating EdTech Products That Solve Real Problems: Featuring Adam Bellow
Play • 51 min

In this episode, we sat down with Adam Bellow, co-founder, and CEO of Breakout EDU, and an EdTech entrepreneur and technologist. Adam gives his best advice for educators who are considering transitioning into EdTech, provides insight on how EdTech brands can successfully communicate with their educator audience, and discusses some of his philosophies on how to create genuine solutions for classroom problems.

About Breakout EDU

Breakout EDU: we unlock the love of learning through games. 

Breakout Edu is a box with padlocks on it, each lock with a different academic purpose. Students work together in small groups to collaboratively unlock the box. Inside of the box, there are discussion cards based on the 4 C’s. About 2 years ago, Breakout also launched a digital platform with games, a game design school and a series of course materials that allows the students to become creators. Adam expressed a huge value for student creation and student ownership as a higher level proof of learning, using what they learned in class to do something that’s actually fun.

Note: This interview was originally recorded on August 27, 2021  as part of the All Things Education and Marketing podcast hosted by Elana Leoni.

About Adam:

Adam is a dedicated educational technologist, father of two young boys. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of Breakout EDU, the immersive gaming platform that enables teachers and students to transform classrooms into places of discovery and inquiry-based learning. Previously, he served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow for the Obama White House, created several edtech learning platforms including eduTecher and eduClipper. Adam has written numerous books about educational technology and speaks internationally on the subject of education and technology.

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Adam said there is one central question to every good edtech product: “what do students need most?” Instead of building out of need, Adam said some edtech brands “build for flashiness, like a lot of pitches I’m sure you’ve heard from an EdTech space. It’s like, oh it’s like this for the classroom without ever thinking did we need that in the classroom?

So for Adam, the key to a good edtech founder is “being able to critically look at it and be like, will this actually matter to those kids? Will it make the product better? Will it make the experience better? Or is it just something that we’ve done for the sake of doing it?” With their experience in the classroom, Adam said teachers are uniquely equipped to ask those questions and use that critical eye.

Adam said that, in order to have a successful marketing product, “The advice I would have is value first. Like we were talking about earlier. But just help as much as possible. And sometimes your product may not solve all of their problems. And the world of education is full of amazing voices. On your end, your job should be to elevate voices as well. And you can elevate voices that are related to the things you're passionate about.”

 In reflection, Adam said “I think Chris Lehmann had the quote from years ago, “It needs to be ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.” And like oxygen, right. That was his quote, like oxygen. And it’s true. I mean that’s still exactly true today. It is not about the technology. Every kid has, most of the students have access to devices, some multiple devices. And as the devices get more and more impressive, and the kids are doing more things with the device on their own, it’ not about the flashy toy and it’s more about what we can get these students to do with that. focusing on the product, not on the how to or the technical side of it.”

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