Technology in education offers the promise of individualized learning and improved outcomes for every student in America. It’s not a new idea. America’s first K-12 ed tech trials took place in 1966. Yet here we are — over 50 years later and still no consistency of success or failure when it comes to educational outcomes.
When people first started talking about education technology in the ’70s, technology itself was the main blocker. We simply didn’t have the capacity to scale networks. Our devices were huge, input methods were clunky, the cost of each device was prohibitive and there was simply no understanding of how to design easy-to-use K-12 software with individualized and blended features.
Can you imagine if a school district did decide to set up a 20-student computer lab in the ’70s? With Hewlett Packard’s first “small business” computer (the HP 3000), it would have cost the equivalent of $10 million, and the computers alone would fill up a standard-size classroom!
In 2017, everything has changed. Today, over 50% of K-12 students have access to an in-class laptop or tablet. Each device runs simple-to-use software connected to a global always-on internet. Our students are digital natives, and 84% of our teachers make use of devices and technology during daily teaching activities.
With all of that, the U.S. ranks a disappointing 38th out of 71 countries in standardized math testing and 24th in science. Clearly, technology and the deployment of that technology is not enough to consistently improve educational outcomes from teacher to teacher, classroom to classroom and district to district.
So, if technology isn’t enough, what is?
While typical single-point solutions are great, there’s a disconnect between the districts that purchase software and the teachers who are left to try and figure out ed tech on their own. A district-wide plan with a holistic approach could be a better option. The key drivers for successful ed tech deployments are: