We're happy to announce that over 100 educators and more than 50 edtech innovators connected through EdSurge's Reflect & Connect tool during ConnectED Educator's Month! This represents but a fraction of educators who connected in their district or school, through social media, and a cornucopia of other initiatives and events (shameless aside: over 500 Seattle and St, Louis educators connected with one another at the Tech For Schools Summits held in October!). But 102 is a nice round number to start exploring and sharing insights.
As of this writing, there have been 102 respondents who identify as teacher, district administrator, vice principal, or technology coordinator. The overwhelming majority of responses come from teachers (59) followed by technology coordinators (34), district administrators (8) and one vice principal. Responses from principals and superintendents are conspicuously missing.
What's the verdict?
The EdSurge Reflect & Connect tool captures educator sentiment across fifteen areas of need: Mission and Values, School Culture, Assessment Alternatives, Technology Planning, Data Analysis, Instructional Framework, Curriculum Evaluation, Blended Learning Models, Common Core Standards, Informal Learning, Effective Use of Space, Staffing, Product & Software Support, Professional Development and Change Management.
The tool then provides recommendations for Twitter chats to join, articles to read, and other Reflect & Connect users to follow. We've purposely introduced a bit of noise in the system to ensure recommended educators cannot be traced back when responding in low numbers (c'mon vice principals!)
Here is a representation of sentiment for each area of need across all identified roles. Across the board responding educators shared a more positive sentiment around "creating a vision of teaching and learning with technology" (label: Mission) and a more negative sentiment around "staff planning in tech-enabled schools and districts." (label: Staffing).
The aggregate results also show a fairly positive sentiment around "developing and establishing cultural norms around edtech" and a fairly negative sentiment towards "Common Core-aligned instruction through technology". A closer look at each role, however, reveals that these sentiments are not necessarily shared across all responding educators.
What teachers want
Teacher sentiment was most positive around mission, mirroring the overall group's sentiment for that area of need. Responding teachers also feel good about culture in their school or district: only 22% thought they needed help around "developing and establishing norms around edtech."
Sentiment was most negative around staffing, again mirroring the overall group's sentiment for that area of need. Another are of concern for responding teachers is Common Core: only 21% feel good about "Common Core-aligned instruction through technology."
Perhaps mirroring the proliferation of LMS, classroom management, and edtech productivity tools in the marketplace, responding teachers feel good about "professionally developing tech-savvy faculty and staff" and "planning and preparing for new edtech in the classroom, school or district."
District administrators love data
For district administrators, it's all about accountability. 100% of responding administrators either feel good or have a working plan for "using data to improve instruction" or "utilizing technology for formative assessment."
Conversely, none of the responding district administrators feel good around "facilitating learning models with new technology," though a whopping 88% are working to improve in this area.
Nearly two-fifths of responding district administrators also need help with staffing and culture --perhaps revealing a worsening sentiment towards culture as you move from schools (one-fifth) to district offices.
Technology coordinators are... trying to coordinate!
Sentiment from responding technology coordinators likely mirrors their precarious position between district offices and practitioners on-the-ground. Similar to all other roles, the overall sentiment towards staffing is negative: only 24% of responding technology coordinators feel good about "staff planning in tech-enabled schools and districts."
However, there are clearly some competing priorities. Where no district administrators reported needing help around data analysis, 41% of responding technology coordinators are looking for help on "using data to improve instruction."
And though district administrators' sentiment is biased towards assessment approaches, technology coordinators are spending most of their time on finding great content and dissecting blended learning approaches: 53% of responding technology coordinators have a working plan for "facilitating new learning models with technology" and 56% are working to improve how they "evaluate and select digital curriculum."
But what does it all mean?
Well, the roles captured in the Reflect & Connect tool need a bit more rigor. One of EdSurge's biggest findings in attempting to serve accurate information to both educators and companies is that the education professional landscape has moved well-beyond traditional titles and continues to evolve. There are apprentice teachers, master teachers, curriculum leaders, instructional technologists, Common Core coordinators, and a host of other roles covering a spectrum of edtech needs. As we continue to interact with all types of educators at our Tech For Schools Summits, we hope to place less importance on arbitrary roles and focus more on the functional needs of educators.
We're also aware that EdSurge is a startup located in the one of the most prolific technology bubbles in the world. This reality means that the Reflect & Connect tool is only a small step in uncovering educators' needs and bringing better information to the education marketplace. We haven't forgot that 80% of schools are lacking sufficient broadband or that Common Core promises remain uncertain or that standardized testing dominates teacher evaluations. Making educators' challenges transparent to fellow educators, administrators, and innovators is one way EdSurge is trying to address these realities.