Edtech and specifically the emerging technologies are enabling ubiquitous learning. But have you managed to select the right mix of pedagogical & classroom technologies? What about student outcome?
Has it improved? Time to Ponder!
You must have observed, with the edtech market booming, teachers now have a line-up of various promising edtech products. However, without clear intent and planning, it isn’t easy to pick the right fit of technology solution easily. It is time therefore for the teachers to start pondering upon what guides their decision to select any edtech solution?
Teachers are used to taking suggestion from peers in the community or pick solution that simply happens to be at eye-level. Also, whenever, the word edtech is pronounced, the first thing that comes to mind is adopting and integrating tools that help educators in collecting data to evaluate student progress.
Student data undoubtedly helps teachers to develop a more effective and personalized learning plan for each student. But, here is where teachers tend to slip up. We say so because, while such are not invalid inferences, nonetheless it should not be the sole resolution that determines why teachers think a particular edtech solution is apt for them to rely on.
Jeremy Bunkley, the Director of Information Technology Services at School District of Clay County suggests education administrators to base their selection of the product on an understanding about which technologies are being used in the classroom. Such is important because, it is the most important pieces of the edtech data equation.
For the education leaders, it is important to ask the following questions which give a better sense of their K12 edtech ecosystem.
#First Question - Which Applications Are Being Used by Schools across the District/Region?
Teachers most often go for online education tools and resources based on their favorite pick or description of the tool that tempts them. Such practice can actually result to issues related to inequity in how students are taught to network issues. This is mainly because teachers are used to accessing just their personal playlists. In addition, just think it for yourself- won’t it be really tough to offer appropriate professional development to the teachers when no two teachers use the same tool.
As a corrective measure, it is advisable that schools collect data on what all programs are being used across the school and other schools in the district. This will help leaders get a get a clearer picture of what’s happening in the classroom in their own school and also learn the efficacy of diverse tools in respect to delivering ubiquitous learning.
#Second Question - Do you Know How These Applications are Being Used?
Again, by tracking usage data leaders will be at an advantageous position to implement refine professional development and also understand where exactly disconnect between teachers and school leaders exist. For example, if the school has adopted a specific reading program for say K-8 and if the teachers are using add-on materials more than the program. The data will also reflect how any program may be contributing to student success and where the resources show minimal impact.
If educators have a shared goal it is not necessary to adopt a singular approach to teaching and learning to meet those outcomes. The fact of the matter is, authentic teaching is not uniform and appears different from one classroom to another in reality. So this makes it extremely important to understand what works is an essential component in finding compatible technology solutions.
Leaders also need to first figure out the problem areas where acquisition of a particular edtech solution will help support the teachers to resolve those issues. Further, one-size-fits all solution is not an acceptable solution always because not all teachers need the same tools.
#Third Question - Are the Applications Conforming to Student Data Privacy?
The school surely will be adhering to some kind of privacy standards. Leaders need to ensure if the edtech tool is not having any specification which does not conform to the institution’s privacy standards. At times even the approved edtech tools fail to follow privacy standards. Such type of instance becomes more apparent in cases where educators download and add digital resources on their own. They sometimes unknowingly give companies unintended access to private student information.
Finally, a lot depends on the school leaders as to how they guide teachers in picking pedagogical solutions or classroom technologies keeping in mind budget constraint and of course the efficacy of the tool. Remember, teachers or the school edtech head cannot afford to buy a program simply basing on the sales pitch of the product. Rather, it is more advisable to base on product reviews and user testimonials of the product which highlight the pros and cons of using the product.
Besides, the above mentioned questions what holds much relevance when it comes to making lucrative edtech decisions are proper planning and alignment. An adequate plan will always help administrators fight the challenge of beating temptation of picking edtech solution based on absorbing features. They will rather pick the best fit that fulfills the purpose/ need.