Educators seeking new technology can start by consulting a database of pre-vetted edtech tools, rated based on alignment with both child data privacy laws and the district’s instructional vision. Each entry includes notes about what the software does, how it can be used in the classroom, and the appropriate age level. Kaye is also working on aligning the database to the ISTE Standards so teachers can see at a glance which standards each tool can help them meet.
Every app falls into one of four categories:
Tools the district approves, supports, pays for, and will train teachers to use.
Tools that are approved and can be freely used on an independent basis.
Tools that are approved with stipulations, such as age or parental permission requirements.
Tools that are not approved because they don’t align with the district’s vision or data privacy needs.
Teachers can request to have a tool vetted
Teachers who choose a pre-vetted app from the approved list can start using it right away, without any further action needed. Educators who have a specific tool in mind that hasn’t yet been vetted can submit a request form that asks questions such as:
How does the tool connect to the curriculum?
Will students be consumers or producers when using it?
How easy is it to learn and use?
What are some of the things they plan on doing with it?
On the surface, adopting technology to support teacher needs or student challenges isn’t terribly complex: define the problem you’re trying to solve, identify the right tools for the job, and implement the tools effectively and with fidelity.
Technology is just a tool, not a means in and of itself. Any school or teacher that sets out to use technology for its sake alone, and not in the service of personalizing learning or addressing specific needs, is on a mission to fail.
Insufficient Modeling of Best Practices
A survey from Samsung found that 37 percent of teachers say they would love to use technology but don’t know how, and 76 percent say they would like a professional development day dedicated to technology.
Teachers face initiative fatigue: They are constantly being asked to implement new programs, integrate new technologies, and add on layers of responsibility. In one Wisconsin district, nearly half of teachers felt ongoing district initiatives were a “significant area of concern.”
Forward-thinking schools take the time to learn from the challenges of other schools, and recruit a coalition of the willing.
Real-World Usability Challenges
Relying on multiple devices (remote, clicker, iPad, computer mouse) to launch or navigate technology can be difficult. Additionally, teachers may start to use a tool, only to realize it is not flexible enough to meet their original needs, fit into the constraints of their particular school or classroom, or allow them to integrate their own content or supplemental resources.
The Right Data to Track Progress
Lack of useful data, problem definition, weak teacher buy-in, first impressions, and usability challenges all have the potential to torpedo smart technology products.
A virtual reality headset can take students on an immersive journey to another world. But no matter how cool it is, if that $3,000 piece of equipment enters a classroom and doesn’t provide any real instructional value, it can quickly become a very expensive paperweight.
Most schools don’t do edtech procurement really well yet. Sometimes we buy products that end up in closets because they don’t fit the instructional needs of students, and we end up not being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
Located in the district’s central office, where hundreds of teachers and staff members stop by each week for professional development, the playground offers a creative space that encourages teachers to explore new tools that have been vetted and approved by the district’s tech department.
In the United States, K-12 schools spend more than $13 billion a year on edtech — often without any idea whether it will make a difference in learning outcomes.
My Note: when stripped from the commercialized plug in for Apple, this article makes a good memorization exercise for pedagogues.
According to American psychologist Abraham Maslow, all humans have the same fundamental needs (food, clothing and shelter), and these needs must be met before an individual is motivated to look beyond these basic needs. This motivational theory is commonly referred to as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Self-actualization: achieving one’s full potential
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can serve as an analogy for what is possible with instructionally-designed technology
1. Device Deployment = Basic Needs
Device deployment is the first basic need of any school looking to leverage education technology. If schools are unable to procure devices and if IT is unable to get these devices into the hands of students and educators, there is no moving forward.
2. Communication = Safety Needs
Beyond basic communications functions, apps must be made available and installed for an additional layer of connectivity. For example, learning management systems (LMS) enable communication beyond classroom walls and empower students with the learning resources they need while at home or in the community. However, how do we ensure access off-campus for those without ubiquitous internet connections
3. Productivity = Love Needs
Communication that encourages higher-level thinking and problem solving is where dramatic learning happens.
4. Transformation = Esteem and Self-Actualization Needs
IT and educators are pairing innovative teaching methods such as blended learning (a mix of technology and traditional learning) or flipped classrooms (teaching is done at home and exercises during class time) with education apps (productivity layer).
5. Let Mobile Device Management (MDM) Be Your Stepladder
Integrating technology into your teaching practice can be intimidating. Where do you start? What tools do you choose? What are the questions you need to ask?
In Selecting the Right Tech Solutions for Your Classroom, you’ll get the guidance you need to thrive with edtech, whether you’re just dipping your toe in or rethinking a districtwide approach. Throughout the course, you’ll engage in online content, develop materials specific to your context and receive feedback from experts. The course culminates with a capstone project that can be used to communicate with stakeholders about your selected technology, your rationale for choosing it and how you’ll implement it.
With the incorporation of cloud-based tools, K–12 schools are starting to consider more effective privacy and security measures, such as identity access management and managed cloud services from third-party vendors that can take responsibility for overseeing security.
guide (available as PDF here and Google Doc here) to offer some explanations of how to avoid copyright infringement by using media that you can legally re-use for classroom projects including blog posts, web pages, videos, slideshows, and podcasts. The guide also includes 21 places to find media to use in classroom projects.