Pedagogy Ed Tech
Pedagogy Ed Tech – In Successful Edtech, Pedagogy Comes First—Devices Second
By Ken Eastwood
Pedagogy Ed Tech – Ken Eastwood is the superintendent of Middletown City School District, NY, a member of our League of Innovative Schools.
In terms of student proficiency, today’s classrooms are more diverse than ever. We’re “detracking” students previously sorted by ability. We’re mainstreaming those with special needs. And we’re serving more and more students who are just learning English.
In these classrooms, teachers face a seemingly impossible task — providing effective instruction to all the unique students under their care.
Educational technology (edtech for short) can play a significant role in mitigating and solving this growing dilemma. Many school districts — including mine in Middletown, NY– are leveraging the power of technology with adaptive assessments and instructional software. These tools help us identify and then address — through intervention or enrichment — individual students’ needs around each of the major academic standards.
An increasing amount of data around personalized educational models like “blended learning” and content-specific software suggests that edtech makes instruction in diverse classrooms more efficient. In one survey, a large majority (80 percent) of math teachers reported that free instructional content from Khan Academy helped them challenge their most advanced students, and a smaller but still significant majority (66 percent) reported that it gave them extra capacity to help their most struggling students make the gains they needed. A recent study within a number of school districts, including the Middletown City School District, showed significantly greater academic growth in blended learning versus traditional classes.
Yet these student growth gains are not reflected in most edtech implementations. A recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that access to computers and other digital devices had no impact on students’ proficiency in reading, math, and science. In many cases, using computers frequently at school actually worsened performance.
Given the enormous potential of edtech to assist teachers in highly diverse classrooms to truly personalize learning and obtain significant student academic growth, why are we seeing such consistent and large-scale edtech failure when it comes to gains in student academic achievement?
My answer is simple: the failure occurs because when we introduce edtech into our classrooms, we continue to focus on things rather than on the process — on devices instead of on good pedagogy.
Successful and sustained edtech implementation requires that good pedagogy must first be in play within the classroom. Few school districts realize the need for this instructional requirement and assume that the technology will make for a better teacher, when just the opposite is true. A pedagogically skilled teacher leverages and manages edtech to maximize instructional efficiency and effectiveness.
A perfect example of the device-before-pedagogy practice is the now-infamous 2011 Los Angeles Unified School District edtech initiative, which involved the purchase of more than 100,000 iPads for its classrooms to the tune of $500 million without any return on investment in terms of student outcomes. Four years later, the district was demanding a refund from Apple.
Most analysts — and the school district itself — blamed the failure on buggy software. But follow-up studies showed a bigger problem. Where LAUSD’s iPads were used at all, they were used for whole-classroom instruction, just like whiteboards of old. LAUSD didn’t motivate teachers to improve or master their teaching methods (pedagogy) or introduce them to newer, more effective personalized learning models that could leverage the power of edtech. This isn’t a new story: even PCs, which were widely available in classrooms by 2001, rarely had a real impact on classroom instruction.
So, what can be done?
Pedagogy Ed Tech – Read the Entire Article, Here
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