Did you know that according to Forbes magazine almost $25 billion dollars of private money has been invested in startups geared at creating or improving technology for teachers? Let me clarify, $25 billion in 2012 alone! All toward giving technology for teachers a much needed boost.
But here’s the thing. Why don’t these innovations make it into the classroom? Where is that $25 billion? On one hand it’s everywhere – take a look at any education focused publication or walk down a random aisle in the exhibitor hall at any education conference and you get a sense at just how pervasive education technology vendors and their solutions are. But on the other hand much of this new technology for teachers isn’t purchased let alone actually utilized. Why?
I have an idea about that “why”? When developing this technology for teachers, did anybody consult the teacher? Is this new technology actually “teachable”, meaning easily implemented into a classroom? Far too often new technology for teachers is not “teachable”.
Think about what we are asking of our teachers for a minute and it all makes some sense. Teachers are increasingly tasked with teaching students to pass this test or that. Pass the test. Get your students to pass the test! They are also tasked with keeping an orderly classroom, providing help and guidance to their students that is critical (but doesn’t necessarily help them “pass the test”) all while trying to reach a classroom of varied learners with varied skills. In other words it isn’t easy and it requires skill and TIME. Lots of 40+ hours per week time! And that’s just to run a fairly representative and effective classroom.
Meanwhile technology changes how often? Ever have your cable company switch and it takes about 3 months to learn the new channels? Ever bought a new car and got frustrated learning how to synch your phone or how to activate the GPS? Ok, I have too. Now ever have someone throw technology at your job – in fact to replace a large part of what you actually do? This new technology for teachers isn’t simply about learning a new gadget or piece of hardware, which is challenging enough. No, this new technology for teachers is about changing much, if not all, of what they do. What they did for 5,12,23,40 years! Very difficult to tell teachers to above all get their students to “pass the test”, have them come up with a winning formula within their classroom that achieves this and then tell them to overhaul it just because there is se new technology that just has to be used. Doesn’t work like that. Shouldn’t work like that.
Technology for teachers first and foremost needs to legitimately HELP teachers. That means beextremely easy to learn – it might have to taught afterall, extremely easy to implement and extremely obvious in its’ benefit inside the classroom. Time is the key here. Teachers do not have an unlimited supply of time. Who does? They have priorities set and students to help. Integrating any new technology for teachers needs to fit within those parameters. It is up to us in the technology for teachers business to create products they can and will use. STEM Fuse develops our courses and technologies for teadhers by teachers. It’s the “by teachers” that is key.