Thursday, October 20, 2016

What Teachers Say about EdTech in The Classroom - Report

A research report from the Gates foundation delves into the state of technology adoption in K-12 schools across the country and takes the point of view of teachers.  The report was released in November 2015 however results and analysis are updated on the report website.

Here are some of the conclusions from the report:

As part of its ongoing outreach to education technology developers, the foundation’s companion website to this research,, will feature more in-depth data from the research as it becomes available, along with existing resources for developers and interviews with a wide range of teachers who provide real-life examples of their needs and challenges. Through this research and ongoing efforts, the foundation hopes to elevate the voices of educators about what they need and spark conversation among the developer community, teachers, school leaders, and other supporters of public education. The recommendations for product developers, district and school leaders, teachers, funders, and investors made in earlier Teachers Know Best reports continue to offer our best guidance, grounded in the research, for ways the field can make technology more responsive to teachers’ needs and speed its adoption in the classroom. Based on our current findings, we add to that guidance a small number of additional, more specific, recommendations:

Product Developers:
  • Teachers need core resources, a sentiment backed up by their perception of the supplemental nature of many digital tools and the belief that they are less useful for remediation than other classroom purposes. Product developers should continue to work to fill perceived gaps in the market—in part by identifying and addressing specific standard, subject, and grade-level needs cited by teachers.
  • Developers should make their feedback process more transparent. Following the lead of their counterparts in other sectors, support and feedback could be driven by open, online communities in which teachers and developers collaborate to identify and resolve issues and iterate on improvements.
District and School Leaders
  • District leaders must find ways to address the digital divide. Without ensuring equal access to technology in all schools and classrooms, learning gaps are likely to increase as digital tools become a more integral part of classroom instruction. Equity must also be considered in digital instruction plans, as teachers will be less likely to embrace the use of digital tools and more personalized instruction if they feel that they do not equally benefit all students.
  • District leaders should ensure that they better understand how teachers will use the digital tools they are considering for implementation—and create avenues to help teachers become more directly involved in school- and district-level technology decisions.
  • Educators should familiarize themselves with resources like Graphite and EdSurge that provide information not just about digital tools, but also the strategies that align those tools to the most effective instructional purposes. Doing so can help ensure that a digital tool that other educators have found effective is used effectively in their own classrooms as well
  • Educators should provide feedback to developers of the digital tools they use most. Doing so will close the feedback loop and speed ongoing improvements.
Funders and Investors
  • Given the continued prevalence of access-related barriers to technology adoption, funders and investors should identify ways to address school and educator needs. Doing so involves not just supporting the improvement of access to digital tools but also the hardware required for students and teachers to use them, as well as the training and professional development needed for them to be used effectively and for teachers to become more engaged technology consumers in their classrooms.

1 comment:

Inkling said...

Quote: "Equity must also be considered in digital instruction plans, as teachers will be less likely to embrace the use of digital tools and more personalized instruction if they feel that they do not equally benefit all students."

Horror of horrors! Are teacher attitudes really that awful? Almost any change in teaching will have unequal benefits. If Group A benefits by 10% and Group B benefits by 30%, should the technology not be embraced? If so, then EVERY student will suffer to some degree. That's equality reduced to madness or even perversity.

My hunch is that technology provides the least benefit to those least motivated to do well in school. It demands that they focus on a thing. For them, a good teacher can be better than any software..

On the other hand, highly motivated students only need opportunities to learn. I'd love to see schools adopt tools like the Khan Academy and even provide those with the proper interests with a subscription to Lynda. Note that the latter offers "over 4,000 courses in business, technology and creative skills. With it, a tiny rural school can offer courses in software development or graphic design taught by experts, even though the nearest qualified teacher might live 100 miles away.

In my darker moods, I become suspcious that the mindset of all too many public school teachers might be better called, "the revenge of the stupes." Not being talented in school, they resent those who were. Equality is simply their excuse to avoid helping those whose talents far exceed theirs. And that attitude is probably fed by ed school professors who, let us be honest, aren't typically the brightest bulbs on campus.

If you'd like to read of a time when public schools openly and gladly offered far more challenge to those with talent, read Anne of Green Gables, set in rural Canada about a century ago. Contrast the zeal displayed then to offer opportunities to those who liked a challenge with today's obsession with mediocrity as equality.

--Michael W. Perry, co-author of Lily's Ride (a YA novel)