Blog Post #3: What Works in Ed Tech? A Leader’s Dilemma

The educational technology industry is hot. $8.15 billion dollars hot, which was the amount of money invested in edtech companies in 2017, according to this recent TechCrunch article. With breakout successes like Flipgrid and giants like Google all tugging at school districts’ purse strings, this raises a real dilemma for educational leaders: how do we know any of this stuff actually helps kids learn? 

Certainly, this is an exciting time for education. Technology has the potential to provide untold solutions for differentiation, personalization, and collaboration. However, educational leaders face some real limitations. While the amount of tools is expanding exponentially, budgets are not. There is a pressure to provide evidence of efficacy, and the slough of marketing buzzwords and self-reported data doesn’t help. 

So how do leaders know which tech to invest in? Traditional tech integration models, like TPACK and SAMR, only provide guidance on how to use a tool. Some websites, such as CommonSenseEdShelf, and EdSurge, help schools filter apps and provide independent data on efficacy. This is at least a start.

Ultimately, the only way to truly know if a tool will work for students is a pilot study. Using Dufour and Dufour’s PLC model, leaders empower faculty to assess both the logistics of implementation (e.g., ease of use, training, compatibility with school mission) but also its impact on instruction (e.g., quality and efficiency of learning, creation of learning opportunity). By working with faculty to collect data on the efficacy of tech innovations, leaders can cut through the clutter and make the best investments for student learning.

Works Cited:

Nataf, Emmanuel. “Education Technology Is a Global Opportunity.” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 19 Jan. 2018, techcrunch.com/2018/01/19/education-technology-is-a-global-opportunity/.

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