Blog Post by Stephanie Iacadoro, Mathematics Supervisor, Grades 6-12, Duxbury Public Schools. This blog first appeared here on January 24, 2016.
After visiting @LearnLaunch and presenting at the #ClassroomoftheFuture Showcase, I am encouraged about the potential for education improvements but also alarmed at what seems to be missing from the EdTech conversation. Technology is moving in a direction where personalized learning and global education is a possibility, but public funding is not changing at the rate that it needs to in order to connect the EdTech Industry with public education and sustain that connection.
The conference began with a conversation on the growing Education Technology Market and the incredible distribution of both public and private companies that are developing products geared toward personalized learning and optimizing the potential for student learning by targeting the needs of teachers and school districts to synthesize data and optimize learning. As an educator myself, I can certainly confirm that every topic at the conference was spot on with identifying what education needs to help students achieve their maximum individual potential. Developers are focused on making data accessible and providing solutions that make data driven instruction a reality. Developers are also focused on the right things: creating solutions that enrich the education profession and respect teacher time.
Across the way from the big picture conversations on profit margins and targeting the needs of education, there was the Classroom of the Future Showcase. Sixteen school districts showcased the ways they are making learning engaging for their students through the integration of technology but also with a focus on student choice, student voice, and project based learning experiences that connects students to their local and global community. The students and educators involved in these presentations were certainly energized and passionate about their experiences. I look at each one of these achievements and view them as a pilot program that requires funding and buy-in to be able to be sustainable across all k-12 education agencies and throughout all contents.
It became very clear to me that we need a bridge between innovation and education. While existing funding opportunities have allowed for EdTech to thrive and have allowed for school districts to be innovative in pockets, there is a digital divide and an achievement gap that must be addressed. EdTech creates opportunities for all students and it certainly levels the playing field when all students have access to the internet. In order to make EdTech a reality for all students the funding formula that drives public education must change. We need policies that aren’t just temporary grant opportunities for some districts in some regions of the country, we need policies that provide a sustainable budget for innovation.
LearnLaunch was a fantastic window into the future of education. As I reflect on the conference and the work being done by EdTech companies and also by education institutions, it is very clear that the next step is sustainability. We can have equal education opportunity and equity for all students if we are able to sustain the funds to make that happen. I would also love to see more partnerships between K-12 education professionals and the EdTech developers that are focused on creating solutions for kids. The more we connect developers with educators and policy makers, the more likely we can expedite education innovations and create sustainable and equitable education for all k-12 students.