Discovering the future of HiMama’s impact on early education through listening
In the world of early childhood education, HiMama has been making significant strides in redefining how technology can truly empower educators, administrators, and families of young children. With an emphasis on delivering high-quality early childhood programming, fostering family engagement and supporting educator growth, HiMama’s journey is driven by its commitment to making a meaningful impact in the lives of children and families.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Heather Wiederstein, HiMama’s newly-appointed Chief Product Officer, to discuss her unique perspective on early childhood education, technology in education, and her vision for the future of HiMama. As an educator herself, Heather brings a wealth of experience to her role, and her deep experience and insights shed light on the intersection of technology and education in the world today.
Heather’s journey into educational technology is not the traditional path of a technology leader that one might expect. With a background as a classroom educator, Heather initially found her way into education technology through her experiences in the classroom. Those early roots later led to creating technology solutions – interventions, curriculum, assessments, and professional development – for companies like Pearson, Teaching Strategies, and Learning Ally. What drove Heather into product development was the opportunity to create a valuable resource for educators, and be a part of scaling it to reach thousands of classrooms. The ability to provide and simplify effective educational solutions for educators across the world fueled her passion for educational technology. Her experience as an educator is what fuels her award-winning product design today.
“What excited me most about product development was the ability to scale a product that I knew, from experience, teachers needed, and that had the potential to impact thousands of children and educators. That was really incredible to me.”
The heart of HiMama’s product: Listening to the field of early childhood education
One of the central themes that emerged from Heather’s insights is the integral role of listening to educators in shaping HiMama’s product roadmap. Heather emphasizes the value of being deeply connected to the field, including educators, administrators and families. HiMama employs a multifaceted approach to gathering feedback, including interviews, customer support interactions, staying on top of education news, and analyzing feature requests. Heather’s philosophy is rooted in understanding the real-world challenges that HiMama’s users face and ensuring that the software meets their needs effectively.
“It is all about finding opportunities to listen to the field and honor their voices in our product. All those conversations we have with educators, those are what create the data points for product growth. The mindset I work under is ‘tell me more’. I am constantly seeking to understand the ‘why’ behind our customers’ needs. It is always about more than the ask, it is about the deep need behind it. What is that educator trying to do? What problem are they trying to solve? My job is to deliver real solutions for real challenges”
HiMama’s difference: Educator-centric approach to growth
A distinctive aspect of HiMama is its commitment to understanding and serving the needs of educators and families above all else. Heather stresses the importance of approaching the future of HiMama as more than a software company, but as an all-encompassing educational solution for educators. HiMama is committed to helping centers deliver high-quality programming, manage their centers effectively, delight and engage families and develop educator knowledge and skills so they can offer high-quality teaching. How HiMama does that is different from the rest. HiMama’s commitment to educators extends beyond the software; the company’s mission is driven by attentive engagement with the field, collaborations with educators and in-house experts, and leveraging best-in-class technology to solve real-world challenges. HiMama is a company of educators, for educators.
“Our real differentiator is that we listen to our educators and our product roadmap is driven by our human connection to those working in the field. We are wholeheartedly committed to changing the lives of educators, children and families and supporting learning outcomes in early childhood”
Transforming feedback into action: The product roadmap for HiMama
Heather’s insights make it clear that customer feedback plays a pivotal role in shaping HiMama’s product roadmap. The team is attentive to every single feature request that comes in from educators, and is attuned to finding the recurring themes that emerge from customer feedback. The aim is to develop solutions that directly address the needs of educators, administrators and families, while also integrating technological advancements.
“My approach is to go through every single product request or ask that comes in and with each one seek to understand the need behind it. We then start to pull themes together from the requests that come in. The themes paint a picture of an unmet need happening in the field of early childhood and that unmet needs informs our product roadmap. We are striving to understand the problems that the field is facing because those are the problems we should be helping them solve”
Looking ahead: The future of HiMama
As HiMama moves forward, Heather’s vision is centered on continuous improvement and innovation. She highlights upcoming developments such as
- Creating easy-to-use curriculum and caregiving routines
- Building in just-in-time formative assessment
- Helping administrators and center owners effectively recruit, plan for, and onboard new families
These initiatives create a seamless experience for educators, administrators, and families, empowering them to provide high-quality early childhood education and engagement.
Heather’s commitment to listening to the voices of customers, understanding their needs, wants, pains and joys embodies the organization’s dedication to educators, children and families. By listening closely, HiMama is driving the evolution of early childhood education through its best-in-class technology and one-of-a-kind parent engagement platform.
“My core values when designing, delivering, and scaling ed tech products – put students first.
We teach students, not material. Children learn holistically, not in discrete disconnected slices of content or within the confines of a class schedule. We must consider the child, their educators, their classrooms, their communities, and their home experiences when we think about and design for how children learn. If it’s not evidence-backed or based in good science of learning and development, it’s not worth building. We must be deeply compassionate when we design for students (and their teachers, families, and caregivers)”.
2023 Ed Tech Leadership Awards Finalist in Visionary category
Multiple EdTech Digest and CODiE awards
Heather is a seasoned, creative product executive with expertise in both the education market landscape and instructional design principles, which has allowed her to leverage those skill sets into education technology product design and development. She has successfully launched award-winning PreK-12 educational solutions for companies such as Pearson, Teaching Strategies, and Learning Ally. Her proven track record demonstrates her to be keenly tuned in with practitioners in the field and to convert that connection to meaningful products that improve classroom practice and student learning while driving business growth. Formerly a certified classroom practitioner holding licensure in Pennsylvania, she has been a coach and advisor for several ed tech companies, and has coached early and mid-career product managers. Her core values for designing, delivering, and scaling products in the education market are to put students first, to build good stuff, and to stay curious.
To learn more about how HiMama’s all-in-one solution streamlines building, managing and growing a quality early childhood program click here!