Teacher experience should drive edtech design, research says
Right now, the endless list of tasks on teachers ’boards includes figuring out what software and tools they should use to better support their students in the classroom. He Office of Educational Technology i communities they work to develop and advocate for policies that address the key challenges of discovering, selecting, and purchasing educational technology. The best way to do that? Recognize that teacher experience should drive edtech design.
I was a teacher before COVID-19 and then struggled to find the right tools to support my children. Today, everything that educators do on a daily basis has been amplified and more responsibilities continue to fall on them. In a recent study, 55% of teachers said they plan to leave the countryside. Among the many reasons are the “intense regulation of teaching” and, ultimately, the elimination of the teacher’s agency in the classroom.
joIn fact, some teachers have shared with me that their districts are now taking more responsibility for selection, adding appropriate selection of software to ongoing teacher evaluations. Many educators stay in the profession because of the rewarding feeling that comes from seeing how their children learn successfully. When teachers are unable to find or use methods that promote this learning and achievement, “Teachers can get demoralized and want to get out of the classroom.”
A search for a great edtech design
I am now a researcher at Digital Promise, a non-profit educational organization where we believe that teacher experience should drive edtech design. After supporting districts with edtech drivers for years, we wanted to focus on a long-term solution to support edtech decision-making.
In 2019, we spoke with educators, school and district leaders, and nonprofits to understand the key challenges of edtech decision-making. In general, we have heard:
- Edtech quality information is hard to find, limited, and rarely reliable, timely, or relevant.
- Without an established common language or indicators for assessing the quality of edtech, it is impossible to compare one tool with another.
- The priorities of educators and learners are often not listened to by edtech marketers; their voices and needs need to be amplified to drive the industry.
Based on these key challenges, we have tried to create a solution to increase the speed and reliability available around edtech quality, establish clear and valuable criteria for evaluating edtech quality, and, more significantly, expanding the priorities of classroom educators in the edtech industry.
Teacher-assisted product certifications
Our research led to product certifications. We are jointly designing certification criteria with educators and evaluating edtech applicants to determine if they have met them. Our goal is to ensure that educators have access to reliable information on the quality of edtech at their fingertips.
Since we launched the first certification in 2020, we have issued almost 1,060 certifications to edtech tools that meet our design product certification criteria based on research and learner variability.
Recently, we spoke with edtech vendors who have obtained research-based design product certification to learn more about the value they have seen in basing their tool on learning science research. Many vendors shared that without a research base, it would be difficult to assess what impact a tool could expect to have on students. And that meant they lacked a way to measure their success to drive continuous improvement.
Teachers make edtech more effective
Another important aspect was that the incorporation of research throughout the design allows for a dynamic construction process. This also ensures that the teacher’s voice can support the edtech team’s learning about what works in the classroom and how to improve a tool.
Ideally, this collaboration with educators to create certification criteria and evaluate suppliers means that product certifications can be a time-saving filter that teachers can use to find high-quality products.
Sierra Noakes, a former professor and now a Digital Promise researcher, worked there two separately reports related to this edtech certification process.
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