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Katrina Stevens, Senior Advisor in the Federal Department of Education, was our keynote speaker at LearnLaunch Community Demo Day Wednesday night at Nutter, McClennan and Fish in the Innovation District. Katrina brings a wealth of experience to her role as Senior Advisor in the US Dept. of Education.  She was an high school English teacher;  a leader at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth,  a leader in district professional development for the CCSS and NGSS in Baltimore County Schools, a curriculum designer and  Edsurge writer,  a moving force behind the creation of Maryland’s  edtech community.   The Office of Educational Technology recently released the Edtech Developers Guide and Katrina is on a road trip to 20 cities to introduce it.  Take a look!

It is an exciting time in education technology,  and Katrina pointed out that in the next two years 70k K-12 schools will get High speed broadband;  which is out of the total of 100,000 K-12 schools.    That will expand the market of schools prepared to move to more digital learning environments.

She highlighted ten opportunities for technology to transform teaching and learning in K-12 schools:

  1. Improving mastery of academic skills
  2. Developing skills to promote lifelong learning
  3. Increasing family engagement
  4. Planning for future education opportunities
  5. Designing effective assessments
  6. Improving educator professional development
  7. Improving educator productivity
  8. Making learning accessible to all students
  9. Closing opportunity gaps
  10. Closing achievement gaps

Katrina was passionate about the need for attention to equity as the use of digital tools in schools is expanded.   She worries that there is a possibility that opportunity gaps might be widened if richer districts adopt digital learning tools and lower income districts are financially constrained from doing so.

The Office of Technology in the Department of Education is helping educators select the edtech tools that are right for them.  A recent report from Digital Promise indicated that most schools used recommendations and pilots, rather than evidence-based research to make tool selection.  Current research, of which random control trials are the gold standard, can be very expensive and time intensive for early stage innovators.  Katrina’s group will be pulling together a Technical working group for research design, and hopefully deliver a tool in 18 months that will help conduct research matched with classroom reality.  The goal is to build an evidence base faster on what edtech tools work, and for which groups of students.

Katrina is also focused on building education innovation ecosystems to create the schools of the future, by engaging entrepreneurs, educators, researchers and policymakers.   She believes that we will not be able to build the schools needed in the 21st century unless all those stakeholders are involved.   The department is looking to support the development of education innovation ecosystems.  Boston is a Developing ecosystem.  Some metro areas, such as NOLA, NY, Chicago, Rhode Island are considered to be “maturing ecosystems”   because they have institutions which marry entrepreneurs, school systems, researchers and policy frameworks.

Katrina enjoyed the pitches and demonstrations by the third LearnLaunch Accelerator cohort:  Authess, Education Modified, Knowledge To Practice, Ni-O Toys, Pip-Learning and Quill.