No one knows teaching like teachers, so we asked more than 3,100 educators what kinds of digital instructional tools are essential to help their students be prepared for college and careers in the 21st century.
In surveys and interviews, teachers told us that they are looking for resources that can help their students meet new, more rigorous standards, including the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards. They also are optimistic that digital instructional tools can be useful. But even as the instructional market is going increasingly digital and a huge array of products exists, gaps remain: Certain types of products that teachers said they need for specific instructional purposes are simply not available; in other cases, there are products available, but teachers aren’t using them or don’t perceive them to be effective. These market gaps present opportunities for product developers to create new digital instructional tools or improve existing ones to better meet the needs of teachers and students.
In an effort to inform EdTech procurement decisions in schools and districts across the country whose leaders realize the potential of technology to personalize learning and improve high-quality educational opportunities, Digital Learning Now! brought together experts from Getting Smart, Curriculum Associates, and The Learning Accelerator to create the Smart Series Guide to EdTech Procurement.
The procurement process outlined is informed by the lessons gleaned from the collective experiences of the authors in working with hundreds of school districts and across education policy matters in dozens of states. The authors have learned a great deal about the challenges that districts face when attempting to discern how best to integrate technology into their schools in a way that creates better environments for teachers to teach and students to learn.
They have heard consistent challenges articulated by educators around the country who are facing inter-related shifts in standards and assessments. In the race to meet these challenges, providers often market themselves in strikingly similar ways, even when their product and service offerings are very different. Frequently, the result is confusion and frustration from educational leaders who do not know where to begin.
In the coming years, schools will be hit with a trio of potent reforms: teacher evaluations that will include student test scores, widespread adoption of higher academic standards, and the development of high stakes standardized tests aligned with these new standards. Each of these reforms challenges the status quo, demanding that schools systematically and continuously improve student performance, marking and measuring their progress each and every step along the way.
The new reforms will require significant changes in the classroom. The Common Core State Standards that have been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia, represent a retreat from the traditional rote, fact-based style of instruction toward teaching that fosters critical thinking and problem solving. Even non-Common Core states are pursuing a college and career-ready agenda that calls for the development of these skills among students and holds schools accountable for doing so. To meet these new standards, teachers will have to learn new teaching practices.
This is not just about providing professional development but about providing effective professional development. Availability alone is not an issue. In fact, in a recent study, researchers found that while 90 percent of teachers reported participating in professional development, most of those teachers also reported that it was totally useless (Darling-Hammond et al, 2009). Thus, the real issue isn’t that teachers aren’t provided professional development, but
that the typical offerings are ineffective at changing teachers’ practice or student learning.
Findings from the Spring 2006 Irving Laptop Surveys for Teachers
The purpose of this study was to describe and identify Sedgwick High School’s teacher and student perceptions of the impact of one-to-one laptop computer access using an appreciative inquiry theoretical research perspective and the theoretical frameworks of change and paradigm shift.
Year 1 Evaluation Results
Perceptions of Special Education Teachers
Teacher, Student and School Perspectives 3/13/2003
Athens Academy Additional Research 3/17/2001