CIC Snapshot: Edtech Reality Check

Attendees of the 2015 Content in Context received an Edtech Reality Check from educators, publishers, and researchers on what is really working in the classroom and where the gaps are with digital learning resources. The overarching theme was that technology without purpose and digital materials that are fancy for fancy’s sake won’t make any more impact on student learning than paper and pencils.


  • There are conflicting headlines about the impact of edtech on student learning, but we really don’t have a lot of solid evidence yet.
  • No one piece of technology is going to work for every student. When looking at any research, we need to be asking the big questions: when did it work, for whom, how much, and when. Those are the answers that will help publishers and educators determine what digital resources (or aspects of the resources) have value.
  • Right now, we are living in a hybrid print-digital world, and that is going to be the state of the classroom for the foreseeable future. If you take away the pencils and paper from teachers, you leave them nothing to work with. Teachers need tools to help them shift to new resources.
  • At the district level one of the most frustrating situations is having dozens of systems and programs that don’t talk to each other. Digital tools should be built in an open and interoperable way that helps increase user effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Educators are tired of technology that does not respect the teacher workflow. Technology shouldn’t be about the sizzle and spice. Publishers need to be developing purposeful technology and purposeful print that enhances the classroom experience.
  • Too often, tech developers are creating products that solve a perceived problem, but it’s actually not at the top of the list of students, teachers, or administrators. Or, the problem has already been solved, but the developer didn’t do enough research. Do the legwork, talk with educators, and find out what they actually want for their classrooms.
  • Keep the focus on active learning. Pushing a button or clicking a link doesn’t make a digital resource effective or engaging.
Content in Context
Digital Issues