Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Edtech Resource: EdSurge

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

From time to time we come across great edtech (educational technology) resources and we like to share them here with our readers.  Anyone interested in or involved with distance learning, online courses, or anything edtech related knows that you can never have too many great tools and resources at your disposal.  So we would like to share an excellent website we recently encountered called EdSurge.

EdSurge describes itself as a website “for everyone who wants to support learning through technology. Our team of journalists, educators and technologists believe that candid conversation about the role of technology in education is essential to building great products. We bring together the people who use edtech and the people who build it with the goal of creating great tools for learning.”  EdSurge aims to accomplish this by sharing news and analysis of innovations in education technology, reporting on companies and organizations that build edtech, and creating a community of educators and entrepreneurs who are devoted to supporting education and technology in learning.

One of the greatest features of the EdSurge website is the EdTech Index.  The EdTech Index is an online “community-driven database of edtech products.”  While at first this may sound like one big page of advertising, you will quickly see that it is actually quite a bit more than that.  The EdTech Index is more like a portal to a thoughtfully organized and categorized listing of edtech resources including subdivisions for curriculum products, teacher needs, school operations, college resources, and more.  Included on this page is also a listing of product reports, which are reports on educational products based on interviews with teachers and administrators.  This is an alphabetical report listing of edtech products that you’ve probably already heard of and may be curious to learn more about.  Some of these reports include edtech items such as BrainPOP, Khan Academy, and many others.

As you would probably expect, EdSurge is also home to many useful articles on all sorts of edtech topics.  You can view EdSurge’s most recent and most popular articles on their homepage.  For example the week we wrote this article, there is an interesting article on the EdSurge homepage about how one organization is redefining the substitute teacher, a comparison of Chromebooks and iPads, and an Introduction to Facebook 101.  You can also sign up for the EdSurge free weekly newsletter on the homepage as well as many other spots on their site.

Lastly, EdSurge offers Events and Jobs pages for more information at your fingertips.  The Events page is a chronological listing of edtech related events from all over, and the Jobs page is a listing of jobs in the edtech industry.  While not the main focus of the EdSurge website, the Events and Jobs pages are a nice extra touch.

If you are looking for a great resource for edtech product information that goes beyond surface reviews or simple advertisements, coupled with some interesting edtech related articles, EdSurge is a great site to bookmark!

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Top Trends in EdTech

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

We recently shared an article that discussed some of the barriers educators face when bringing edtech (educational technology) into classroom. It seems like we hear about new developments in technology on a regular basis and educators often find themselves struggling to keep up with each new edtech trend. So, when it comes to edtech, what is it that teachers are most interested in?

Today we are examining the results of a survey that asked over 100 European and North American teachers to rate their interest in the top technological trends in education today.  The top rated edtech trends in this survey were Online Educational Resources, Web Tools for Education, Blended Learning, Personal Learning Networks, and Social Media in Education.  In each of these categories, 96% or more of survey respondents reported that they were very interested in these educational trends.

Online Educational Resources – The term Online Educational Resources is fairly self-explanatory.  Essentially this phrase refers to the online sources of education news, information, research, and opinions you find interesting or useful. Examples of online educational resources would be your favorite education-centered blogs, online education and edtech news and research websites, TED talks and education-related podcasts, or any other online source of educational information.

Web Tools for Education – If you are using some sort of educational tool that is based on an Internet platform, you are using a Web Tool for Education.  This term basically encompasses any of the online gadgets in your education repertoire.  Online grade books, classroom behavior management systems, flash cards, assessment tools, etc., would be considered  Web Tools for Education.

Blended Learning – Blended learning is a broad term that encompasses any teaching strategy that combines online components with in class components.  Essentially, a portion of the course or lesson content is delivered in person and part of it through a computer related medium.  Usually students have some control over the time, place, path, or pace of the online learning portion.  Flipped classrooms are a good example of blended learning.

Personal Learning Networks – The term Personal Learning Network, or PLN, refers to an informal group of people or entities one interacts with for the purpose of gaining and sharing knowledge.  With respect to edtech, this would include personal and professional connections made through social media sites, online discussion forums, or any other online interaction engaged in for educational purposes.

Social Media in Education – The trend of social media in education is probably one that most every educator has had some experience with or at least heard of.  This trend refers to using online tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr or any other popular social media site as part of your curriculum.  Teachers who are uneasy about using these sites in the classroom can find more student-friendly alternatives in sites like Edmodo or Schoology.

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EdTech Barriers

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Here at the Gatlin International blog, we write a lot of articles about edtech (educational technology): tips for using edtech, resources for edtech inspiration, benefits of edtech, tools for implementing edtech in the classroom, and much more.  Most people in the field of education will agree that technology has the power to enhance curriculum and student achievement in many ways, but not all educators are using edtech to its fullest potential, if they are using it at all.  Why is this?

First we would like to share a few statistics on edtech usage and teacher attitudes about technology in the classroom.  The following are the results The Common Sense Media Survey of Educators conducted in May of 2013.  This survey included 764 public preK-12th grade teachers and 205 public school administrators.

Edtech acceptance is common:

  • 86% of teachers think it is ‘important’ or ‘absolutely essential’ to use edtech in the classroom
  • 965 say that edtech increases student engagement in learning
  • 95% say that it enables personalized learning
  • 89% say that it improves student outcomes
  • 87% say that it helps students collaborate

But, acceptance does not equate to practice:

  • Only 19% use subject specific content tools weekly
  • Only 31% use information or reference tools weekly
  • Only 24% use teacher tools weekly
  • Only 14% use digital curricula weekly
  • Even in 1:1 (one technical device for each student) classrooms, the use of subject specific content tools (15%), information/reference tools (37%), teacher tools (18%), and digital curricula (20%) are still quite low – in some cases lower than the ‘general’ numbers!
  • 92% of teachers agree that they’d like to use more technology in the classroom than they do
  • 77% of teachers state that they have a hard time finding out what the best tech resources are
  • 32% of teachers spend an hour or more each week finding edtech resources

What are the barriers?

If educators and administrators agree that edtech is both beneficial and important to student engagement and achievement, why are the percentages of actual usage so low?  As you probably already guessed, the number one barrier to edtech usage is money.  Technology can be expensive and with educational funding cuts rampant across the globe, this doesn’t bode well for edtech.  Many schools must rely on outside sources – grants, private donations, and fundraising – to pay for technology in the classroom.  Next in the line of barriers is access.  Securing funds for technological devices in the classroom does little to no good if the school site does not have the infrastructure to support the technology.  Keep in mind that access is also limited by a lack of school staff to support and maintain technology and its necessary infrastructure once it is in place.  Last but not least in the list of edtech barriers is time.  As anyone in education knows, teachers and administrators spend countless hours outside their “normal” workday preparing lessons, grading assignments, and completing other related tasks.  There is a great deal of time required when it comes to learning about new technology, planning and implementing an edtech project, and maintaining technological devices and applications.

As serious as these barriers may seem, the fate of edtech is not hopeless.  Many teachers and administrators realize the value of technology in the classroom and that is a large step in the right direction.  Schools can play an important role in bringing technology to the lives of their students if these barriers to edtech usage are met with creative solutions and positive workarounds. Experts agree, the benefits of edtech outweigh the challenges.