Educators are looking for new solutions to address serious challenges. Lisa O’Masta, President of Learning A-Z, explains, “K-5 student test scores plummeted in math and reading nationwide this year, erasing two decades of progress. This news paints a harrowing picture of the current state of the American education system since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With students and teachers still feeling the impact of the disruption to learning, the need for personalized instruction has increased even further.”
“In 2023, more teachers and districts will use technology-based assessments as a baseline for delivering personalized instruction, allowing leaders to understand students’ unique pain points better and adjust curricula accordingly. In addition, edTech will help teachers support students where they are by offering innovative solutions to remediate and make up lost ground,” she says.
O’Masta shares her perspective and answers questions EdTech solutions providers are asking as they plan to meet demands in 2023.
What types of EdTech solutions are in demand?
O’Masta: The promise of EdTech has long centered on differentiation and personalization for students. Without a doubt, improved student outcomes remain the goal for everyone. But with the staffing shortages in schools throughout the U.S., we see increased demand for EdTech solutions that can provide differentiation for students and teachers.
Professionals, for the first time, need a recommended path to follow, and veteran teachers want to create their own pathways from robust libraries of resources. In addition, schools need solutions that can provide both while also returning a common set of data to measure student performance since reporting is so vital to school success. As a result, schools are demanding increased sophistication from EdTech.
What does a total solution look like?
O’Masta: The total EdTech stack starts with the basics: device compatibility, sufficient bandwidth to support concurrent usage, peripherals like headsets to accommodate in-class use, and backend tools to support rostering and license management. Training, implementation support, and demonstrated experience ensuring up time for tools should be standard for all EdTech providers. Districts must provide a comprehensive suite of resources to meet students, teachers, and administrators where they are in their journey with EdTech. To access these resources, every student should have access to online platforms within the classroom, whether through personal laptops or iPads, or shared classroom materials. It’s also helpful when students can access EdTech products outside the classroom.
Another great addition to the EdTech stack beyond hardware and software is ongoing product training and professional development services. EdTech vendors who offer continued product support and materials beyond the platform, such as teacher training, easy access to troubleshooting, etc., are best able to help students and teachers maximize the value of their EdTech resources.
Are there new trends in EdTech?
O’Masta: Teachers and school leaders value EdTech that incorporates modern, well-researched practices into their platforms. A big topic of importance in instructional practices is the application of the science of reading (SOR), a category of research that explores the best ways to teach kids how to read. For EdTech companies that develop early literacy resources, that means implementing SOR and supporting SOR-based instruction.
Educators need research-backed methods for teaching kids how to read and decode, and they increasingly recognize the importance of their EdTech providers supporting the SOR. In 2023, we’ll see more EdTech platforms embracing a science of reading-backed curriculum and providing these much-needed resources for teachers and students. But be careful; not all EdTech providers offering SOR resources are the same!
What advice can you give IT solutions providers implementing EdTech solutions for their clients?
O’Masta: The best advice I can give IT solutions providers implementing EdTech solutions is to listen to teachers and incorporate their feedback. Teachers are the ones that are using these platforms daily and are going to be the first to recognize any areas that need troubleshooting or additional support. Additionally, consider how various EdTech platforms work together. Most teachers use more than one supplemental platform within their classroom, so think about how these programs fit together and what technology is necessary for each to be successful.
Finally, lean on EdTech vendors! Most reputable vendors offer ongoing support for implementing and using the platforms, so don’t be afraid to tag them in as expert resources.