Putting Content before Technology

While excitement about the potential of ed tech on student learning has not waned, educators are now more cautious about adopting digital tools. As Dallas Dance, Superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools, told Content in Context attendees at the 2015 event, developers, especially start-ups, often come to educators with products for perceived problems versus real problems in the classroom. In a recent article about what AAP has learned about quality content from the REVERE Awards, we offered up our lessons on developing effective educational materials. Here’s a look at two more resources focusing on content over technology.

  • Writing for Digital Promise, Ken Eastwood, Superintendent of Middletown City School District, NY and a member of our League of Innovative Schools, discusses why pedagogy must be considered before the device. Commenting on recent failures in edtech implementation, Eastwood writes, “the failure occurs because when we introduce edtech into our classrooms, we continue to focus on things rather than on the process -- on devices instead of on good pedagogy.” He offers schools four key steps for successful digital learning initiatives.

1.    When planning edtech initiatives, ensure that mastery of pedagogy is in place or in the works.
2.    Given the explosive growth of edtech content and other resources on the market, contract with third-party consultants who can vet the thousands of digital options to find those that match specifically with your school district's educational and pedagogical needs.
3.    Know how to generate buy-in from schools.
4.    Understand that technology is there to help teachers.

  • The Ed-Tech Refinery, a program for young visionaries to partner with educators at schools, libraries, and museums in the Pittsburgh region, gives developers the opportunity to do research and test their products in the classroom. Part of the Sprout Fund, the Refinery offers grants that allow edtech companies to connect with educators and students to playtest products, work with curriculum specialists to develop lesson plans for your product, and partner with professional development agencies to create instructional modules for educators learning to use your product. Recent grant recipient Nesra Yannier has found the experience invaluable, “A lot of technology gets built but doesn’t get implemented because developers don’t listen to what teachers want,” she said in a Remake Learning blog post. “I really want to get the perspective of teachers to make it more usable for them and easier for them to adopt.”

Educators, parents, and students should expect and demand only the highest quality instruction. Whether the products are print, digital, or a combination of both, the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group has been at the forefront of advocating for high-quality, effective resources for all students. Click here to read our document Quality Content for Learning Resources.

For more on working with your customers and to get the educator perspective on areas like assessment and game-based learning, come to the 2016 Content in Context (CIC) conference, June 6-8 in Philadelphia, PA.

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