About Innovatemap — 06.27.2023

Innovatemap Partners with Nextech to Bring Product Strategy to Classrooms

Chelsea Douglass, Director of Marketing

Nextech teachers with Innovatemap product experts

We believe in the transformative power of education. As leaders in innovation, we continuously learn new tools and enhance our skill sets. 

But without the dedicated teachers who inspired us along the way, none of us would be where we are today.

Innovatemap partnered with Nextech to equip Indiana teachers with the tools and strategies to integrate new tech business practices into their classrooms, empowering them to nurture the digital skills and curiosity of their students.

As part of this year’s XPLORE program, Innovatemap welcomed 20 Indiana teachers from schools across the state, as far north as Hammond and down south to Switzerland County. 

“There are so many educators who played a meaningful role in my journey to becoming a product marketer,” said Maria Otteson, Senior Product Marketer. “It’s a privilege to give back by helping teachers see the reality of what their students can do with their education.” 

Nextech’s summer XPLORE program gives teachers the chance to learn from tech industry professionals. In addition to virtual professional development opportunities, educators spend two days visiting Indianapolis tech companies to gain the confidence and knowledge necessary to deliver computer science curriculum with the critical real-world context.

“Our goal at Nextech is to provide the curriculum, the content, the community and the context,” said Stephanie Zircher, VP of Programming at Nextech. “If we can show computer science teachers what they’re teaching truly matters and how it relates to the real world, then we can help them encourage students to explore careers in the tech industry.”

We bonded over our college majors and explained how we’re helping Indianapolis-based MathTrack combat the nationwide math teacher shortage. 

“It was eye-opening to hear how these teachers have been directly impacted by the math teacher shortage,” said Sara Napierkowski, Director, Client Success. “When we asked if anyone was a math teacher, one teacher responded, ‘I was this year because there wasn’t anyone else to do it.’ We’re always proud of the work we do to create products that change the world, but this was a full-circle moment for our team.”

To give the teachers a better understanding of what we do at Innovatemap, we separated into small groups to design a to-do app for teachers.

Each group worked directly with our product managers to:

  • Research — what are the productivity problems teachers face today?
  • Brainstorm — what solutions help teachers be more productive?
  • Prioritize — if it were your app, what features are most important for teacher productivity?

Then, with the support of our product designers, teachers designed the user experience. They learned about:

  • Block frames — what will the home screen look like?
  • Design patterns — how can we follow industry trends and meet user expectations quickly? 
  • The design process — iterate, get feedback, iterate again. 

But before any product can go to market, you must define your positioning. Our product managers helped teachers define their:

  • Positioning — who’s this product for and why does it matter?
  • Tagline — what’s something snappy people will remember? 

Lastly, we helped teachers give their apps a brand. Using AI tools, our brand team helped teachers create a:

  • Name — how will your product’s personality speak to the world?
  • Logo — what will your product’s personality look like to its audience?

At the end of the day, the Innovatemap team joined the teachers for Show and Tell to learn more about each group’s app: TaskPro, Edu2Do and TimeWise. Each group advocated for the most beneficial features for themselves and their classrooms. 

Teachers deeply influence how students think about their future career paths. Working alongside them, we developed a foundational understanding of what it takes to build a tech product. Now, they can help their students understand that they don’t have to code to land a fulfilling career in tech. 

“My goal was to convey the breadth of skills and interests it takes to bring a digital product to life and to inspire the teachers to nurture the non-tech skills that are so vital in working with the tech skills,” said Katie Lukes, Principal, Practice Lead — Product Strategy & Research. 

We’re proud to join forces with Nextech to support their mission to help teachers shape the minds of tomorrow. 

Our daily mission at Innovatemap is to help leaders achieve their product visions. Today and every day, we’re immensely grateful for the teachers who have helped us achieve our own visions, goals and dreams.

“If we can share our time and expertise to help just one student to discover a passion they may not have known otherwise, it’s a day well spent,” said Jake Ledford, Product Designer. “Because I was that student at one point.”