Are You Putting Edtech at the Head of the Class?

Study shows classroom technology a top priority for students to compete in a tech-driven world

GUEST COLUMN | by Cheryl Miller

Today’s educators are at an impasse. The industry puts a high premium on student engagement and innovative, technology-based learning methods, but as a recent study found, there are still many barriers to edtech utilization in the classroom – and they are only getting harder to overcome. As the modern world is increasingly technology driven, expectations are growing for teachers to help their students better utilize new technologies to stay competitive.

The truth of the matter is that student achievement and results are, in large part, driven by proper utilization of edtech in the classroom. Without a clear strategy in place, students will often be unengaged with lesson plans and ill-prepared for the modern world in the future.

But the same study showed that administrators often prioritize student achievement and results over delivering educational benefits through technology, even though these two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

From the beginning, the administrative team established an evaluation committee made up of teachers, administrators, and support staff to uncover how each new solution enhanced and complemented teachers and students’ daily activities.

Teachers and administrators do agree however: edtech is critical to contemporary learning. With this as their foundation, it is time for the two to come together and develop strategies that put edtech at the front of the classroom to achieve their goal of meaningful classroom results and student engagement.

Why tech has taken a back seat 

Edtech’s benefits are widely known. School systems use education technology every day to reinforce student-teacher engagement, enhance collaboration, make learning interactive and cater to individual student needs and learning styles. Even with these benefits however, its role in the classroom is too often limited.

More than half of teachers reported a lack of appropriate or working technology which prevents them from tackling common teaching issues. Furthermore, a vast majority of administrators felt budgetary restrictions would have the largest impact on students’ education this school year – including challenges deploying connected devices and new hardware in their districts.

So, without proper access to functioning solutions or the budget for new ones, it’s no wonder teachers and administrators have their eyes set on other priorities.

Keys to keeping up 

Although it is often assumed educators are forced to play catch-up with their students when it comes to using technology – after all, today’s K-12 students are all digital natives – teachers now say they know more about tech than their students, and they’re not afraid to use it. In fact, today’s educators are confident they have the skills necessary to help students responsibly use technology while also driving results and classroom achievement.

All too frequently, however, districts implement technology without a vision for measuring success. It is hard enough to craft the perfect budget, organize professional development classes and get students involved, that establishing a well-defined end-goal can feel tedious. That is, unless you establish key performance indicators at the start.

It’s important for administration to continually evaluate the success technology has in the classroom. Those surveyed felt they could identify successes with classroom technology by measuring student engagement, academic results and teacher feedback – and then adjust their approach accordingly. An example of a district that continually measures the success of its classroom technology is Sarasota County Schools in Florida.

From the beginning, the administrative team established an evaluation committee made up of teachers, administrators, and support staff to uncover how each new solution enhanced and complemented teachers and students’ daily activities. The result has been a well assimilated edtech implementation with positive feedback from both teachers and students on classroom engagement.

1:1 can’t act alone

Another recent report showed more than 50 percent of teachers use 1:1 computing in their classrooms, allowing students to access the internet, digital textbooks and digital course materials as needed. While it’s one of the most prevalent trends in K-12 education, many teachers think if used improperly, it can hinder students’ interpersonal collaboration by promoting individual working environments. But it doesn’t have to.

Teachers have found that student-centered edtech can help drive active teamwork in the classroom. For example, District 7 in Spartanburg, South Carolina uses interactive displays that integrates with 1:1 technology to allow teachers to share students’ work with the rest of the classroom. By displaying it on an interactive display, teachers can marry two beneficial technologies and allow students to not only have more personal access to technology, but better engage with one another – creating a dynamic classroom experience.

In all, there are certainly some roadblocks to increased utilization of technology in the classroom. However, by establishing a strategy from the start, ensuring teachers are equipped and making sure the solutions in place work together to create a dynamic learning environment, districts can make smarter edtech decisions and work together to achieve their end goal of enhancing the student learning experience and overall achievement.

Cheryl Miller has over 20 years of experience in the tech industry. She is Chief Marketing Officer at Promethean and was previously at Microsoft serving as GM of the One Commercial Partner Team, leading the worldwide go-to-market efforts. Prior to this role, she held positions at F5 Networks, Symantec and VA Linux. Connect with her through LinkedIn. Write to: Cheryl.Miller@prometheanworld.com.

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