- When making the shift to modernized learning environments, administrators should start out simple and take small steps toward the end goal, according to EdTech: Focus on K12.
- By first piloting new furniture, devices and other tools and resources in libraries, media centers and other common areas, administrators can then spread those that work into individual classrooms via early adopter teachers, whose enthusiasm will sell their peers on new approaches better than a top-down initiative would.
- Additionally, administrators should ensure stakeholders at all levels have had an opportunity to share suggestions and feedback before major purchases are made, with particular thought given to questions like how devices will be charged, what apps are necessary, and how lack of home internet access will be handled.
New approaches to technology use and classroom design can absolutely transform learning. But experts have also warned time and again that they can't be approached as panacea — pedagogy is still of the utmost importance.
As Scott McLeod, an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Colorado Denver and the founder of CASTLE, told us in 2016, the most important question administrators should consider when buying tech is, "How does this empower students to do amazing things that make a difference in the world?" He added that he gets "a lot of puffery but rarely an answer that causes me to lean in and ask more rather than raise a skeptical eyebrow."
To understand what's useful in ed tech, experts suggest examining the research to determine what's worth investing in, and considering whether a tool offers interactive learning opportunities or provokes a student to design and create. A lot of tools come with plenty of great marketing, but ensuring they provide maximum educational benefit to students requires a little extra digging and plenty of continued effort to effectively embed them in curriculum.