Foster strategic decision-making that assesses emerging technologies and determines their relevance for education.
What is the issue and why is it important?
Over time, the educational technology market has matured and moved away from merely retro-fitting technologies originally created for the business community. Providers are now designing systems specifically for educational institutions and connected classrooms.
This technological transition has been a boon and a dilemma for decision makers. More choices in accomplishing the same task mean more variables in making decisions about strategic investments. The term emerging technologies refers to technologies under development to meet specific educational needs. Emerging technologies can be viewed as either improvement on existing technologies or completely new technologies ready for market.
Providers of technology, including researchers and commercial manufacturers/providers, are bringing to market new technologies at a pace never seen in the educational environment, which raises a critical question: Does new technology necessarily make life easier, save resources, or increase student engagement or success? It is time-consuming to understand what is on the market and its appropriateness for the education environment. Educators struggle with deciding which technology is appropriate to adopt when it potentially impacts thousands of students. Not only do these decisions have to be made about the hardware (computers, laptops, smartphones, iPads and other devices), but also about the applications, software and the people related to the hardware.
While it is impossible to predict the future, it is possible to revisit and revise the policy environment governing selection, procurement and implementation of new or emerging technologies. The revisions allow decision makers to ensure that the selected technologies are properly vetted and are part of a larger strategic process designed to improve student success. Failure to do so will severely inhibit students’ opportunities in the SREB region.
What if SREB states do not make adequate progress on this issue?
Predicting the future is almost impossible, but there are ways that some states are beginning to tackle what’s available. For example, the Tennessee Board of Regents has set up the Mobile App Education & Workforce Collection Resource Center, which provides educators, students, parents, and those in the work force a bank of educational and job-related mobile apps; aligned to academic and work force subjects; ranging from pre-K to careers.” Not only does the center evaluate new apps as they emerge on the market, it also evaluates the hardware. Educators and administrators can borrow hardware to test in instructional environments to decide the appropriateness for their purposes. Having testing grounds helps everyone understand which hardware and why and how software/applications might work for them. This type of innovation and action must be supported with a forward-looking and flexible policy environment.
What are some next steps SREB states can take?
Here are some steps that states can take to try to figure out how to best plan for and test emerging technologies:
- Use BetaMatch, a digital platform for matching early-stage ed-tech companies with tech-savvy teachers who want to try out new tools in their classrooms.
- Develop rubric and standards for evaluation of emerging technologies
- Dedicated funding for testing emerging technologies
- Create an application for teachers to apply for this funding – and permission – to try out emerging technologies
We will be answering these questions:
- What is the status in SREB states?
- What measurements can SREB states use to assess progress?
- Where can I learn more?