One day he may lead Club members in a lesson on building digital resumes that can be customized quickly and make job-seeking easier when applying online. Another day they may create a blog. On this particular day, they drew up a budget for an upcoming event using a spreadsheet. For kids who are often glued to their smartphones, these types of digital tasks, surprisingly, can be new experiences.
The vast majority of young Americans have access to a smartphone, and nearly half say they are online “almost constantly.”
But although smartphones can be powerful learning tools when applied productively, these reports of hyperconnectivity and technological proficiency mask a deeper paucity of digital skills. This often-overlooked phenomenon is limiting some young people’s ability—particularly those in rural and low-income communities—to succeed in school and the workplace, where digital skills are increasingly required to collaborate effectively and complete everyday tasks.
According to a survey by Pew Research Center, only 17 percent of Americans are “digitally ready”—that is, confident using digital tools for learning. Meanwhile, in a separate study, American millennials ranked last among a group of their international peers when it came to “problem-solving in technology-rich environments,” such as sending and saving digital information
teach his sophomore pupils the technology skills they need in the workplace, as well as soft skills like teamwork.
Since edtech varies from district to district and state to state, it’s unlikely that an IT candidate will be up-to-speed on the current system in use. Alabama solves this problem by offering the Alabama Chief Technology Officer certification program.
It is critical for those in K-12 IT leadership to understand the unique customer service needs of the education industry. When technology doesn’t work, it throws a wrench into an entire day of learning. Educators need a fast fix and responsive service. Effective tech leaders will delegate by teaming up with tech-savvy teachers who can serve as school tech leaders. This strategy allows for an on-site tech expert to step in to put out fires before the tech expert arrives.
Former teachers can also make strong chief technology officers because they understand both tech and education. This allows them to build trust with the staff, which is a critical component to launching new technology initiatives.
In fall 2007, Larry Berger, CEO of Wireless Generation (now Amplify) was invited to submit a paper to an “Entrepreneurship in Education”
As education entrepreneurs know, growth in K-12 comes hard. Sometimes very hard. We were living Marc Andreessen’s startup mantra: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror.”
The edtech boom of the past two decades promised efficacy and new instructional models. Many teachers instead experience it as “clutter.” But poorly integrated standards, curriculum, assessment, and intervention materials have always been a problem.
When it comes to instruction, the work consists of four segments: core curriculum, supplemental (intervention, test prep, little books) curriculum, assessment, and technology (hardware, infrastructure and connectivity). Each of these workstreams are run by separate teams, using independent funding streams, only rarely coordinating. Schools rely—as they always have—on the hero in the classroom, who has to somehow synthesize everything for a roomful of children, every single day.
Twelve Years Later: How the K-12 Industry and Investment Landscape Has Shifted (Part 2)
Twelve years ago, Amplify CEO Larry Berger and I wrote about the “pareto distribution” of companies in the K-12 sector.
The “oligopoly” was the natural outcome of a highly decentralized system and fragmented demand. To serve 15,000-plus districts and more than 100,000 school buildings, a company needed huge sales and service teams; to afford them, the company needed a bookbag full of products across content areas, grade ranges, and use cases. The structure of demand created the “Big Three”—McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson.
Meanwhile, the number of small players—further right on the pareto distribution—has grown dramatically. Online distribution and freemium business models have enabled companies like Flocabulary, Newsela, Nearpod, and others
few alternative models to consider:
companies like Remind, ClassDojo, and Edmodo, who all adopted a “West Coast” approach: collect active users now, with plans to monetize later.
The second includes the “platform” players—Schoology, itslearning, Canvas, and other LMS-like platforms. They have set out to do something differently, only possible by means of technology—to be the search, storage and distribution platform for instructional content. Google Classroom has instead emerged as the de facto standard platform, fueled by the runaway adoption of Chromebooks.
The third includes “policy responsive” players—companies like Panorama, Ellevation or Wireless Generation. hese companies help school systems meet a new policy requirement—social-emotional learning, English Language Learning, and reading assessment, respectively.
But we’re not “decluttering” our classrooms or in our schools. What would it take for the private and public sectors to work shoulder-to-shoulder?
a catch-22: so long as buying is fragmented, it’s hard to justify the integrated product investment; so long as products are fragmented, it’s hard for a district to create an integrated instructional model.
! Tasks with motivational gamified mechanics → improvement in 21st-century learning skills, technical competencies,
independence, and personal accountability for devices and their readiness
! Student-led, independent, and sophisticated use of devices increased roughly 100%
! “Gamification as a motivational tool and platform for online delivery of learning activities and resources is a critical element of
integrating technology into schools”
! Students placed a greater value on their devices being present and ready to use in order to enjoy gamified content
! The use of gamification capitalized on the curiosity aspect being at the center of intrinsic motivation — encouraging students to
explore what their devices can do for them in general and what they are capable of given the task, some direction, and a
Omidyar Network’s report on what works in scaling education technology in different regions worldwide. Governments, educators, advocacy groups and companies large and small need to work better together. Long-term planning and investment in infrastructure for widespread and improved access to the internet and mobile devices is critical.
But what may surprise some readers of the report, released Monday, is what the United States can learn from developing nations when it comes to bringing together all parties interested in edtech.
Last month, the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) published a report arguing schools and districts should go the way of other industries and hire a Chief Privacy Officer to oversee their organization’s privacy policies and practices.
But the reality is that Chief Privacy Officers in K-12 education are about as common as unicorns.
Two years ago, Denver Public Schools created a new role, the Student Data Privacy Officer, after the Colorado legislature passed a law to promote student data privacy and transparency.
In my state of Virginia (like many other states), we focus on these four:
Community engagement and civic responsibility
STEP 2: Tag team with colleagues to plan instruction
In step one we created our graduate profile by brainstorming and identifying both the personal and professional knowledge and skills that our future graduates need. Now it’s time to formulate plans to bring the profile to fruition. To ensure student success, implementation should take place in the classroom and tap the expertise of our colleagues.
Student success is never due to one teacher, but a collaborative effort.
STEP 3: Identify and leverage the right industry partners
Technological literacy requires students to create authentic products using appropriate edtech, therefore developing technologically literate graduates should not be left entirely to teachers and schools.
Soliciting the help of our industry and business partners is so crucial to this process
Step 4: Create career pathways in schools
schools create systemic K-12 career pathways — or pipelines — for their students and give teachers ample time and space to plan and work together to maximize the learning aligned to well-developed graduate profiles.
In October 2018, the Education Week Research Center conducted a nationally representative online survey of nearly 500 K-12 teachers, principals, and district leaders to learn more about their views on innovation—a common buzzword that was defined in the survey as “the introduction and/or creation of new ideas or methods.”