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Day 19/05/2014

{ How might we } develop Ed Tech that teachers and students will actually use? Include them in the conversation!

While the title of this post may seem like a no-brainer, it is shocking how wide the chasm is between research and practice. On one side, we have researchers and ed tech companies developing new curriculum, apps, and tools for the classroom. On the other side, we have teachers and students who are often not included in the conversation until the Beta version roles out and they are asked for feedback.

Classrooms are castles that teachers spend a ton of thought and effort in carefully constructing. Therefore, many teachers are resistant to change, especially new ideas that they haven’t had any say in. On the other side, researchers often have a warped or idealized image of how a piece of technology will play out in practice, and there are many classroom factors that could make their plans obsolete. Additionally, there is a huge issue of ensuring teachers have adequate professional development and training in how to use new tools in the classroom.

A huge focus of the Instructional Technology and Design course I took this past Spring was to include users EARLY in the process and – if possible – make them part of the project teams. Teachers and students should be included in every aspect of the process when designing technology that they are going to use.

When I first heard about he Design Thinking for Educators (DT4E) handbook, I knew this was an important step towards changing how we view the role of the teacher in developing new practices and tools for the classroom. However, realistically some projects are too huge for full-time teachers or schools to take on on their own. This is why integrating them into the work that researchers and companies do is so imperative.

It looks like one state has finally gotten the message with this. Hawaii has brought the teachers’ voices into tech ed integration. In this article from Ed Surge,  the author explains that Hawaiian educators are integrally involved in the decision making process as Hawaii transitions to a 1:1 “device in every hand” state. Additionally, the teachers have been allotted TIME to play with new technology and time to construct their own integration strategies. In fact, they found that teachers ideally need a whole school year of professional development before releasing devices to students.


In my own research project (I am developing a computer based coach for Invention activities), we have teacher consultants who we are working with, and the PI has many years of classroom experience. We will be pilotting in real classrooms by the end of the study, working with teachers and students to assess how they use and enjoy the learning experience

However, I think there is definitely more room for more teacher and student voice in the development of new products. How Might We better integrate technology in K-12 education? Let me know what you think!

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