How Edtech Tools Evolve…Ch. 3

With EdSurge’s third installment of State of Edtech: How Edtech Tools Evolve, they share:

  1. The history, research and ongoing debates around how best to teach and assess math and reading. We look at how these conversations have shaped the creation of edtech tools;

  2. A framework for understanding how technology can impact teaching and learning, along with the pros and cons behind using the framework;

  3. A dozen stories of educators across the country who have witnessed changes in technology, and have adopted tools to refine and redefine their instructional practices.

In the next chapter of our yearlong research on the state of education technology, EdSurge, with the support of AT&T Aspire, has explored how popular instructional tools have changed over time, and how this evolution has influenced teaching and learning. Underlying our story is a cautious optimism that education technology will finally deliver on its potential. Bold visions about how technology can transform classrooms are by no means a recent phenomenon. Both Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs asserted, a century apart, that physical books will be obsolete in schools—a prediction that has proven wishful. Part of the problem was that technology was difficult to use and often did not work as intended. Today, after decades of fits and starts, education technology has matured. Better bandwidth, cloud computing power, data collection and distribution channels such as app stores, among other infrastructural improvements, have helped developers make devices and software more accessible, affordable and, most importantly, easier for students and teachers to use. In order to get powerful results, the tools must be aligned with practice in purposeful ways. Often times, the most widely used tools are ones that are flexible, content­ agnostic and can be adapted for a wide range of teaching needs. In our analysis on the evolution and use of edtech tools, we dive into: ● the history, research and ongoing debates around how best to teach and assess math and reading, and how these conversations have shaped the creation of edtech tools. ● the pros and cons of a popular framework that helps us understand how technology can impact teaching and learning ● a dozen stories of educators across the country who have adopted tools to refine and redefine their instructional practices Used intentionally, technology can help teachers realize ideas put forth decades ago by education researchers. For example, data can give teachers better insights into what each learner needs and help them adjust classroom strategies. Games and online collaborative projects offer students more engaging ways to appreciate and learn abstract subjects. Not every practice needs to be reinvented. Just like paper­ and ­pencil, many traditional habits around teaching, discussion and homework continue to work well for many teachers. But whatever their comfort or experience, educators increasingly have access to a powerful set of new technologies to help them refine—or redefine—the way that they teach students.

Read more here:­reports/state­of­edtech­2016/builders

In our analysis of education technology products, we explore the history, research and debates behind how to best teach and assess math and reading knowledge. This chapter explores: ● apps and games that represent numbers, arithmetic and other mathematical ideas in visual ways, allowing students to “see” math beyond a collection of numbers and symbols; ● algorithms that attempt to quantify text complexity to help students find the “right” difficulty of reading materials; ● alternative methods of testing students in more fun, engaging and low­ stakes ways, and using this data to help teacher hone their craft. Yet no matter what features are built into a product, the technology is unlikely to impact learning if it’s misapplied. To understand how today’s tools can be used, we borrow the SAMR framework, created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, to understand the different ways that technology can support changes in instructional practices and learning outcomes. To bring the framework to life, we also profiled a dozen educators from across the country on how they have used technology to support instructional needs and transform teaching practices. What these stories reveal is that changing ingrained habits and codified practices requires patience. Some teachers use technology to do the same tasks as before, albeit more efficiently. Others are creating entirely new sets of activities that transform learning from a solo to social experience. Whatever their comfort or experience, teachers increasingly have access to a powerful set of new technologies to help them refine—or redefine—the way that they run the classroom.

Read more here:­reports/state­of­edtech­2016

What are today’s tools capable of? Are these new features and capabilities impacting teaching and learning? How are these tools used by teachers to resolve some of the classroom’s gnarliest problems?



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