In this episode, Ricky discusses the ed tech news of the week that focuses a lot on equity and making sure we really think about how all students will be able to use ed tech.
Ed Tech News RunDown
Build an Equitable Computer Science Program
Ed Tech Magazine gives us some parts of a Q and A session with Leila Nuland on how to build equitable computer science programs. Leila is the managing research director for K-12 for Hanover research. One of the thing she addresses is the question of if computer science should be a part of general curricula or off on its own. She believes that what we’ll see down the road is that computer science is more a part of the general curricula but admits that research is lacking on this question. Other questions they ask revolve around how equitable one to one or BYOD programs are. She suggests really doing research to make sure that accessibility is at the forefront of these programs. Just because you give everyone a device, it doesn’t mean they have the ability to access the internet at home or even have a safe place to keep it. There are many considerations to make sure everyone has the same level of accessibility with these devices. And finally her best advice to anyone developing a computer science curriculum or program is to really look at the outcomes you hope to achieve. Whether it is getting more students to take these classes in high school or just simply exposing students to it, the ultimate way to judge success is to decide what the hoped/expected outcomes are. This is certainly true on a granular level in education as well… making measurable outcomes can make all the difference. As always I recommend you check this interview out if this is something you are tackling at your school or district.
STEM can Launch Students’ Futures
Another Ed TEch Magazine story that also deals with STEM explains how STEM can help launch student’s futures. One of the main points of this story is that now, more than ever in our history our schools are training students for careers that haven’t even been created yet or aren’t in the mainstream. A somewhat frightening statistic this story relates is that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. And while I have no idea how that could come up with that number, I don’t doubt it as we see so many things changing in our technology. But if it doesn’t scare you and make you want to hide in your house forever, what can we focus on to help get students ready? And what it really comes down to is teaching our students how to solve problems and the computational skills necessary to do so. We are going to need creative scientists and programmers that can solve problems together to help our future have the people ready for the jobs it will have waiting for us. If this isn’t a cry for ending standardized tests, I’m not sure what is.
Good Intentions Don’t Equal Equity
The Ed surge on Air podcast interviewed cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito and she talked about how good intentions don’t always mean equitable outcomes for ed tech. If this is something you are interested in hearing you should definitely check out the podcast. I’ll give some highlights from the show now and for me one of the most interesting thing from her anthropologist perspective is how the people who are creating this ed tech are not as likely to have the same experiences growing up as many of our students do. Hopefully this will be addressed as we continue to focus on making technology more equitable and more accessible across all populations. Although those intentions are good, it doesn’t always end up being equitable…Just a simple example. Educational technologies that rely on streaming video, for example, seem like a really good idea. It’s something that makes new kinds of learning resources available more widely, but [it] has the unintended and unfortunate consequence of marginalizing students who don’t have access to streaming video. So many things to consider with ed tech and equity and we will be battling this, perhaps always as the newest technologies take a while to be affordable and usable by all people, if they ever are.
Ed Tech Companies Need Humility
And our final story and given the previous 3 we have talked about today it may be the most appropriate story ever to conclude an episode of the show. The title of the ed surge article tells it all… “Why ed tech needs a bit of humility and caution. The best way to some up this article is that teachers seem to be over ed tech companies simply guessing what they need and then going full speed ahead. The article asserts that these ed tech companies should use some humility and realize they may not have all the answers or know exactly what teachers need on their own. Yes, some ed tech companies hire teachers but as we have heard in previous stories on this podcast too many times they are hired after the company already has a mission and a service or piece of software. Certainly having teachers involved at all is good but maybe ed tech companies can take it a step further and slow down and actually work with teachers to create solutions for teachers. The biggest roadblock to this, in my opinion, is just how fast ed tech is moving and how much money is being thrown at those ed tech companies with their foot on the gas. I have advocated for this before and I’ll do it again now, we need more teachers to start their own companies that have the primary mission of solving problems they see in their field. This happens and some of those companies are wildly successful because of it.
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