EdTech Failure? A Magic Formula


Reading James' words below, I am not convinced of his assertions:
EdTech solutions were already siloed, overly fragmented, and extremely messy before the pandemic.  Over the past year and a half, it’s just gotten worse. There are now even more silos and fragmentation, with multiple systems collecting data with different UX/UI, and none of them are designed to speak with each other. 
As a result, the learning community (i.e. all stakeholders there to support student success) is basically closed. Schools should work smarter by opening their learning communities by connecting what matters most. 
Source: James Stoffer, edCircuit, Do Schools Actually Know Their Customers?
While it's easy to say, "EdTech solutions" haven't really had an effect on learning during the pandemic, the real question might be, "How much have students really lost?" There's already pushback against the concept of learning loss.
Emerging studies throughout 2020-21 consistently showed that the negative academic effects of COVID-19 disruptions were real, and were most pronounced among historically marginalized student groups. But the idea of learning loss received surprising pushback, mostly from those who felt the term stigmatized students or blamed educators for circumstances outside of their control. 
Some claim that learning loss is a “myth” and indicative of “deficit framing” because it ignores the student learning during the pandemic outside of traditional curricula. 

Source: Brian Robinson, What Can Spring 2021 Assessments Tell Us of Learning Loss? 


We know that hitching edtech to poor instruction simply makes the latter more efficient, but no more effective for accelerating student growth. That's why districts are investing in Corwin Press workshops on John Hattie strategies, instructional coaching, and buying books like Visible Learning for Literacy, Math, and Science (and whole bunch more in that vein), Mike Bell's The Fundamentals of Teaching with its formulaic approach composed of proven strategies.

The Magic Formula

It all made me ask, "Is there a magic formula to all this?" With tongue firmly in cheek, I set out to capture the magic formula for teaching. With a wink and a nod, I've included ideas from the following folks:
This has all resulted in what I like to think of as a "magic formula," and addresses what James Stoffer's main complaint is...our failure to know who we are serving, bungling edtech implementation, and overtaxing staff and failing to account for students' needs (academic and social-emotional):
(BBL+ TCM&SEL + HESIS + EdTech) * Coaching –> Accelerated Student Growth for All Learners

  • BBL- Brain-Based Learning
  • TCM - Teaching with Culture in Mind, which is really a euphemism for Culturally Responsive Teaching
  • SEL - Social and Emotional Learning
  • HESIS - High-effect size instructional strategies
  • EdTech - Aligning digital tools to amplify or enhance high-effect size instructional strategies
  • Coaching - Read the research? If you're not being coaching or engaged in coaching, you're wasting your time with professional development.
The end result is accelerated student growth. But what edtech should we be using? James Stoffer makes some valid points. Schools have over invested in technology solutions, slapping them like band-aids on gaping wounds. The band-aids aren't getting the job done because teachers don't know how to use them. Those that do, have a million other jobs that distract them. And, when your life is threatened (there's a pandemic people), what you really need is human comfort a la social and emotional learning that connects what you're learning with what you already know (schema/culture).

I get it. It's time to invest in professional learning, join professional associations that connect educators and make it easy to share ideas. It's not that edtech has failed, but that we adopted solutions while on the march. It's time to slow down, reflect, and give it another go.

Of course, if only your worst enemies (e.g. politicians, legislators) weren't trying to ban books, halt conversations on culturally responsive teaching and history, politicizing teaching and learning. 


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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