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NYTimes- Measuring the impact of tech in the classroom?

In case you missed it over the long weekend The New York Times’ look at education technology deserves reading. On a positive note, it’s great to see some classrooms addressing the need for combining technology (gadgets) and support services (instruction, project-based learning activities,) rather than just distributing laptops and expecting to see results. ”The digital push here aims to go far beyond gadgets to transform the very nature of the classroom, turning the teacher into a guide instead of a lecturer, wandering among students who learn at their own pace on Internet-connected devices.”

But isn’t the bigger issue instructional quality and the assessments we use?

While the Matt Richtel touches on the point of the ‘teacher as a guide,’ he fails to emphasize the deeper, well-established lesson that instructional quality matters. I believe that schools/districts that focus on the combination of technology and support will see the results this article laments are absent. But are results really absent?

The larger issue here are the assessments themselves. Many of the learning gains, “learning to use the Internet to research, learning to organize their work, learning to use professional writing tools, learning to collaborate with others,” as well as student engagement, are not captured in the current metrics, but significantly impact long term academic success. Once we improve assessments to address the whole child, all the pieces of this puzzle will come together.

Wow! Kudos to Cathy Davidson for so clearly articulating the point around the archaic assessment systems we are using to measure student achievement and the impact of technology in schools.

“It is not the test scores that are stagnant. It is the tests themselves.   We need a better, more interactive, more comprehensive, and accurate way of testing how kids think, how they learn, how they create, how the browse the Web and find knowledge, how they synthesize it and apply it to the world they live in. “

I highly recommend reading the full response.

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Where to begin?

There are tons of amazing people all over the world working on seriously innovative solutions to help improve education for all the world’s children. Truly inspiring endeavors…but the challenge is finding out who is doing what, where and how can we really understand what is going to make the biggest impact on education reform and if we can help achieve their mission? My goal is to share all the nuggets of information I’ve discovered in my search to understand the EdTech space in hopes to encourage collaboration across similar initiatives and shift the culture of nonprofits to embrace sharing their failures (I mean pivots) the same way entrepreneurs have been since the beginning of time. And so it begins…