Ed Tech Trends
New Project Hopes to Help Teachers Choose Ed Tech with True Impact
- By Dian Schaffhauser
out what education technology really works for teachers and where and
why is a complex undertaking. After all, there is no master overseer
in charge of tracking the details of a segment that some estimates have pegged at between $26 billion and $41 billion annually before 2020 and that could far exceed that given the impact of the
pandemic (updated 7/26 from previous figure of $13 billion). In spite of the huge investment made in the sector, some
experts have suggested that about half of ed tech investment is
wasted because the product or service is used ineffectively, little
used or never used at all.
Much of the decision-making about what to
try or acquire is based on word-of-mouth coming out of other schools
in the same district, service center or region.
could change. An ambitious project hopes to uncover what aspects are
most likely to have the biggest impact on ed tech's effective use in
specific kinds of settings. The initiative was launched today by the
of Virginia's School of Education and Human Development,
in collaboration with nonprofit EdTech
latest work grew out of the "EdTech Genome Project," which
brought together more than 100 researchers, educators, ed tech
companies and policymakers to develop a list of 10 "consequential"
factors that were most likely to influence ed tech selection and
implementation, covering, among others, such areas as teacher agency,
staff culture, the selection process and implementation systems and
of those factors, the Genome Project also developed two tools: 1) the
"EdTech Implementation Framework," which provides
comprehensive definitions for each variable; and 2) the "EdTech
Implementation Inventory," a set of 10 instruments for detecting
and measuring those variables.
the EdTech Evidence Exchange wants to launch a "massive effort"
to encourage teachers to use the tools, known as the Exchange
Platform, to "carefully describe their contexts and document
their experiences with specific technologies." The intent is to
collect and publish data from schools and districts across the
country on where and how ed tech is being used and what's working."
With this information, the organization asserted, "educators
will have new access to rich insights about the technologies that
have succeeded or failed in contexts like their own."
goal of the Exchange Platform is still to help teachers and
administrators learn from the experiences of others working in
similar contexts -- but doing so at scale. The outcome, said
organization officials, will aid educators in choosing and
implementing education products and services "in ways that can
save billions of dollars and lead to dramatic improvements in student
now, word of mouth and anecdotal evidence have been our best resource
to determine what technology to use in the classroom," said
Melissa Collins, a second-grade teacher in Nashville, TN, in a
statement. "The opportunity to learn from my peers and to share
my own experiences will transform the way I choose and use new tools
need to understand what technology tools work and in what contexts is
more urgent than ever," added Heather Crawford-Ferre, education
program professional at the Nevada
Department of Education,
in a statement. "Nevada is excited to partner with the EdTech
Evidence Exchange to learn from and support our teachers,
administrators and schools in selecting the best educational
technology for their students. Together, we're tapping the collective
experience and insight of educators in ways that will not only help
us make smarter investments in technology – but also improve the
learning experience for students across Nevada."
know for a fact that school environments vary from each other – in
ways that matter deeply when it comes to selecting and implementing
the tens of billions of dollars worth of technology we buy for our
schools," noted Bart Epstein, CEO of the EdTech Evidence
Exchange. "It is long past time for millions of educators across
the country to be able to learn from each other's experiences using
thousands of technologies."
Exchange has issued the 128-page "The EdTech Genome Project
Report," which lays out the progression of the work and shares
the content of the tools. The report is openly available on
the Evidence website.
To learn more, visit EdTech
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.