Wednesdays with Wasay – Empowering EdTech in the Classroom

One of my colleagues recently forwarded me this speech and follow-up Q&A session with Steve Jobs from 1983.  I encourage you to enjoy this rare and raw vision of one of the greatest technology and social disrupting visionaries of our time. There are multiple occasions where I was surprised at how accurately Mr. Jobs described and predicted IoT, and the evolution of PC into the many varieties of mobile devices, as they stand today.

I am going to focus this today’s Wednesdays with Wasay on one of the early education-related initiatives Steve talked about in this speech.  He wanted the schools to be ahead of the technology curve, and to be active and involved participants during this IoT evolution. He wanted to empower and incentivize the younger generation of students to be able to excel in Math and Science, while this technology evolution goes through the curating process.  As a starter, his idea was to make sure every school had at least one personal computer in every classroom to achieve the early student involvement and adaption. this project was called ‘Kids Can’t Wait’…

Kids Can’t Wait – the objectives behind this project were certainly not limited to kids, but also focused on potential optimizations and improvements in professional development for teachers, and ways to more actively involve parents with their children at the instructional level.

Fast-forwarding 25 years later…  we have been able to bring the student-to-computer ratio in public school way down from where it used to be 10-15 years ago, with many districts and campuses offering 1-to-1 device programs.  There is now more than enough bandwidth in the classrooms to support testing, reporting, as well as creation and consumption of multimedia on these devices.

Many schools have more devices than ever, with access to a wide variety of hardware and software solutions, yet many school districts are still doing things the same way they were doing 10-15 years ago.  We continue to make improvements in providing tools designed to return some of the time educators would previously lose by having to complete certain tasks like grading tests, composing lesson plans and instructional materials on paper, or piecing together performance data on reports. The EdTech marketplace has a wide variety of software solutions designed to support K12 Enterprise, including but not limited to: transportation management, facility management solutions, inventory management, SIS, SPED, classroom level assessment, reporting and instructional solutions among many others.  However, School Spire’s primary focus is on the classroom, and we continue to be geared towards providing tools for administrators, teachers, students and parents.  The important thing isn’t the number of smart devices available to staff and students, but how they are being used. Are they a distraction to instruction, or are they (as Steve put it) effective tools allowing staff, teachers, and students to amplify their abilities?

It has taken major publishers decades to start a shift from text books as their core business model, and to adapt to and embrace technology and digital media to publish their content. Still, their pace to distribute digital resources to all kids at an affordable cost via different IMS/LMS software solutions is lagging.  Persisting today, there are an overwhelming number of tools and resources at educators’ finger tips that aren’t quite as interoperable as they’d need to be for efficient implementation, and still many of them can’t “talk to each other”. Often students would access these resources if they were only assigned to them or distributed effectively so they know how and where to find them.

Through the years, there have been several initiatives that have attempted to standardize EdTech, using interoperable frameworks.  We have worked with a few including SIF to IMSGlobal.  IMSGlobal has gained respect and wide adoption from both private and public EdTech stakeholders, and we are finally seeing more publishers and content providers jumping on board, using one or more different sets of standardization. This is helping close the gap on having to frustratingly conglomerate information and resources from an overwhelming number of disconnected sources. Tools embracing interoperability standards seamlessly and securely communicate with one-another. Taking advantage of these new frameworks, ushers in the next step in EdTech, where students can take more ownership on their performance by providing on-demand and self-guided materials, so they don’t have to wait for the next class, lesson, or lecture to improve and grow in their learning. This also helps alleviate educators’ and parents manual process of finding and distributing specific resources or activities tailored to each child’s unique performance and growth needs.

SchoolSpire is committed to working with our current and future partners to get these standards adopted, with the EdTech interoperability goal in mind.  At the same time IMS/LMS providers like SchoolSpire are content neutral, we can identify gaps in student learning mastery from assessment data we collect, but still depend heavily on educators and content providers to provide targeted, intervention resources. SchoolSpire has an ever-growing set of partners, including Certica, KDS, Desmos, TextHelp, Wiris. These integrations enable access to the most effective tools and content. Let’s not make kids wait.

 

Muhammad Wasay
CEO, SchoolSpire, Inc.

References:

Brown, Marcel. “The “Lost” Steve Jobs Speech from 1983; Foreshadowing Wireless Networking, the iPad, and the App Store”. Life, Liberty, and Technology, 2 Oct. 2012,

lifelibertytech.com/2012/10/02/the-lost-steve-jobs-speech-from-1983-foreshadowing-wireless-networking-the-ipad-and-the-app-store/

 

Herold, Benjamin “Why Ed Tech Is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach”,  Education Week, 10 Jun. 2015,

www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/06/11/why-ed-tech-is-not-transforming-how.html