- When picking digital tools for math classes, educators should weigh several factors as they make choices for their classrooms and students’ needs, Nell McAnelly, a veteran math teacher and former co-director of the Louisiana State University Cain Center for STEM Literacy, writes for Edutopia.
- To start, teachers should consider whether available tools handle their needs, that they and students can pick them up without too much effort, and that they dovetail with curriculum designed for the course. Equity must be considered as well, particularly if digital tools will be used by students at home, to ensure every child has the resources to access these.
- Educators may also want to decide if the tools are worth their investment or if they provide scaffolding for where a student is in their own learning process. Once a choice has been made, teachers may also want to use the tool themselves first to make sure they’re comfortable using the technology before introducing it into classrooms and curriculum.
One method to ensure all stakeholders understand the digital needs is to hold regular meetings between the curriculum, technology and even student services departments so all groups hear from each other. In that way, tech teams and curriculum designers can learn about specific classroom demands and challenges straight from teachers, using that information to decide how educational software and devices can best support student learning.
Ed tech experts also suggest educators and stakeholders thoughtfully examine whether a specific device or platform is the right solution for their school and their students. Rather than another tool that just moves instruction online, technology should enhance and expand classroom learning.
Certainly, the pandemic has augmented instruction, necessitating that much of learning move to a digital format. But ultimately, districts and schools should always begin every technology purchase with a strategic plan, asking whether new tools will actually augment learning and ultimately empower students.