Organizing the Edtech Toolbox
Teachers have many edtech resources in their toolbox now. The question is, are the teachers within a school, grade, or subject area accessing the same toolbox? More important, are the tools of equal quality? During the edWebinar, “Transform Learning: Track Results for Chromebooks, Google Suite, and Every Application,” presenters Kyle Berger, Chief Technology Officer at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, TX, and Matthew X. Joseph, Ed.D., Director of Digital Learning and Innovation at Milford Public Schools, MA, talked about why they wrangled their technology and how having a defined edtech toolbox improved teaching and learning overall.
For both presenters, the why was easy. Whether tracking software via spreadsheets or interviewing teachers, the current methods weren’t working. On a day-to-day, or even month-to-month basis, district leaders didn’t know exactly what programs teachers used, how effective they were, or even why they chose the programs. And even though many of the programs had reports and data, the programs didn’t talk to each other and the data wasn’t comparable.
Berger and Joseph both chose to use a data analytics tool, CatchOn, to track their edtech’s use and effectiveness. Through the platform Berger saw that at his school teachers were using about 472 programs that he didn’t know they had. There was no consistency in teaching, and they were spending money on programs that weren’t being used. Using the data, Berger and his team started having in-depth discussions about what programs they had, which ones were effective, and the value of the programs versus the cost. Teachers aren’t able to come home from a conference anymore and download the latest app. There’s a review process in place that asks: Why is this better than what we have now? In addition, because of the large number of unregulated apps, school leaders had to address data privacy and security impacts.
Similarly, Joseph’s team found they had a large number of apps du jour that hadn’t gone through any vetting process. At Joseph’s schools they started sorting the apps in buckets, looked for gaps in usage, and evaluated the ROI. They based decisions not only on how effective the program was but whether it could be scaled across subject areas or grade levels. Often, the reason teachers were reaching outside of the official edtech was because they didn’t understand how the programs could help their students. Now, once software is approved for the schools, teachers receive ongoing PD for the software so they’re comfortable integrating the app into lessons.
Finally, both talked about how, through the vetting process, they’ve been able to better educate their teachers about bringing edtech into the classroom. “We have to sort through the edutainment software—you know, the ones that aren’t really showing the true educational value—really getting our curriculum specialists to dive in and see how that’s aligning to what we have in place in our classrooms.”
This article was modified and published by EdScoop.
About the Presenters
Kyle Berger serves as the Chief Technology Officer for Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, a school district of 13,500 students located in North Texas. He has over 18 years in K-12 technology leadership spread across districts of various sizes and demographics. Awarded Technology Director of the Year by TCEA in 2009, he has also been featured in several educational technology magazines as well as other published books on edtech. Kyle is known as a transformer of educational technology. His more than 18 years of service is full of vast experiences in one-to-one deployment, complete district revitalization and overseeing of bond programs, and redefining technology in several districts. You can follow him on Twitter @edtechco.
Dr. Matthew X. Joseph has been a school and district leader in many capacities in public education over his 25 years in the field. Experiences such as the director of digital learning and innovation in Milford Public Schools, MA, elementary school principal in Natick, MA and Attleboro, MA, classroom teacher, and district professional development specialist have provided Matt incredible insights on how to best support teaching and learning. This experience has led to nationally published articles and opportunities to speak at multiple state and national events. He is the author of Power of Us: Creating Collaborative Schools and co-author of Modern Mentoring, Reimagining Teacher Mentorship (Due out, fall 2019). His master’s degree is in special education and his Ed.D. in educational leadership from Boston College. You can follow him on Twitter @matthewxjoseph and visit his blog, techinnovation.live.
As CatchOn’s Product Manager, Leo Brehm is actively involved in the design and development of CatchOn. Previously, Leo served as the learning evolution officer (CIO/CTO) for Central Massachusetts Collaborative Public Schools of Northborough. He is passionate about and has a proven history of dedication to the advancement of learning through a schooling model that is both student-centered and personalized. You can follow him on Twitter @leobrehm.
About the Host
Monica Cougan joined ENA in 2012, where she currently serves as the product marketing manager. Bringing over 30 years of experience in technology integration, Monica oversees ENA’s partner program and product marketing initiatives. Monica’s prior work with education and the integration of technology in schools and districts, helps guide ENA’s work with education partners offering outstanding programs to schools. She has extensive experience in building collaborative network opportunities specifically videoconferencing and collaborative technologies. Monica continues to support national organizations advocating for the effective use of technology and supporting the needs of our education and library communities.
Join the Community
Leadership and Innovation is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net that serves as an online forum for collaboration on leadership and innovation in schools to meet the needs of the next generation.
ENA delivers robust and reliable broadband, Wi-Fi/LAN, communication, and cloud services to K–12 schools, higher education institutions, and libraries across the nation. We work side-by-side with our customers to ensure they have the connectivity, communication, and collaboration solutions they need to be successful.
CatchOn is a user-friendly data analytics tool that collects real-time data on every device, enabling school districts to make data-informed decisions about the apps and online tools their educators and students are using. In 2018, CatchOn joined forces with ENA, a leading provider of comprehensive technology solutions to education institutions and libraries across the nation. Collectively, CatchOn and ENA leverage their respective resources and expertise to deliver critical services and solutions that help school districts produce positive outcomes in the communities they serve.