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Education Technology 101: From Assessments to Zombies

Ten burning questions and a plethora of resources to help you get caught up in the edtech conversation


Why shouldn't the smartest people in the world want to go into education?

One reason that comes to mind: maybe they just don't know much about how education--and for that matter, how quickly education technology has been evolving.

And yep, we'd like to help. Here's a collection of stories and resources to help you begin to map the landscape of education technology.

In some ways, there's nothing new about using technology in the school room. At one point, pencils seemed a tad bit revolutionary. (Yah! No more chalkboards!) And before the end of the decade, we're willing to bet Google Glasses will be popping up on campuses all over, too.

Still it's hardly all buttercups and roses: both education broadly as well as edtech have big, hairy problems that trigger passionate debates. We'll point some of these out below as well.

And as always, please share your rants, raves and reminders with us here. We're all here to learn.

1. What are the influential ideas behind “edtech”?

Here are some of the big ideas that have shaped how many entrepreneurs have framed education's biggest problems, along with the technological solutions that they're building.

2. How can you be a part of the edtech community?

From casual meetups and conferences to Twitter and streaming events, there are a multitude of ways to get connected with other movers and shakers in the edtech community. We help you jump into our favorites. And you can stay up to date with gatherings happening in your area with our Event Calendar.

3. How do you build an edtech company?

You’ve got the great idea, the perfect team and enough ramen to last the year...but how do you create a lasting (and profitable) edtech company? Here are some tips on the tough questions surrounding product design, funding and incubation.

4. Does the profit motive belong in education?

There's a contentious debate over whether the profit motives inherent in startups and entrepreneurs are at odds with the larger mission of helping education. Companies need to make money to survive. How can entrepreneurs balance between answering the need of educators and students, versus the need to make money?

5. How do you find and evaluate edtech products?

How do you know where to start looking? Sure, you can Google "math games" but the results are sure to be overwhelming. And how are you supposed to know which tools really work?

6. Can technology help better prepare teachers?

Teachers need personalization and blending too! Professional development has historically involved a one size fits all model, where all teachers regardless of their skills, abilities, and needs received the same training at the same time. Can technology give teacher the tools and advice they need, anytime and anywhere? Or will traditional models of PD prevail?

Other Reading

Digital Learning Now! Smart Series: How Blended Learning Can Improve the Teaching Profession

Audrey Watters: What Educators Should Know About Technology

7. How can teachers help edtech entrepreneurs?

Teachers can- and should--shape the way that products are built and presented to their fellow peers.

8. Where does 'Making' or project-based learning fit into edtech?

Tinker tailor solder ply! There's a revival of the DIY education, brought about by the fast-growing MAKE movement that's all about bring hands-on learning back into schools. In the quest to connect what students learn into something they can grasp and hold, project-based learning is quickly becoming a popular alternative to the stale lectures and worksheets.


9. How should we measure student “success”?

What does it mean to be a successful student in the 21st century? With Common Core’s impending march and heavy influence over what gets taught, using the standards as a guide for measuring student success seems inevitable. But are the standards enough to prepare kids for the future? Can they help students develop more than just basic, subject-based skills and tackle critical thinking and creativity?

10. Who owns the data?

There's a lot of talk about data for both good and bad. Proponents of Big Data say it's needed to fuel many of the personalized technologies that will benefit educators and students. Those opposed are concerned whether Big Data will become Big Brother. As teachers and students increasingly share everything from class materials to personal information online, how is this data safeguarded? Does this data belong to students, parents, schools, or the companies?