Before Adopting New Tech, Try it From a Students Perspective First
It’s July, and you are a school administrator that just finished watching a brilliant presentation from a salesperson representing an up and coming edtech company. The product looks good, the research behind it is sound, and you even got a chance to demo it for yourself. You are ready to pull the trigger and sign on the dotted line. But wait, when you demoed the product, did you do so from a student’s perspective? Odds are, you didn’t, as you were mainly concerned with how it functions from the vantage point of an educator.
Not to worry, I have you covered. Ask to demo the product again, and this time demo it from a student’s perspective. Here’s what you should pay attention to.
Does the edtech tool amplify your student’s voices? What I mean by voice, is the ability to express what you have learned and how you feel in unique and innovative ways. Does the edtech product that you are demoing allow students to personalize how and what they learn, and select different options for presenting evidence of what they have learned? These basic options are prerequisites for allowing students to have a voice in the classroom. When students have a way to amplify their voice, they become more invested in what they are learning and take ownership of their academic lives.
Does the edtech tool enable students to collaborate? If students can not cooperate, then how can they learn how to work with others to solve problems and issues? I would say that the absence of a collaboration function would be a significant drawback for an edtech product unless it can integrate with other collaboration apps and tools. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. I will leave you to discover those on your own, as I trust your judgment.
Does the edtech tool allow your students to communicate with you? Let’s say that one of your students is experiencing difficulty with a math problem, but does not want their classmates to know. Does the edtech tool that you considering adopting allow them to open a chat with you and ask you to assist without alerting the rest of the class? Can they send you a message over Christmas break about a project that is due when they get back to school? It’s these small nuances that help students reach their academic potential.
Does the edtech tool engage students? When you demo the edtech tool that you are thinking of adopting, does it make you feel excited about learning, or are you completing the tasks because of the possible consequences? You want to select products that will make your students feel passionate about attending school. You don’t want students to be disengaged and complete assignments because they must; you want them to do it because they are motivated to learn.
Can students use the edtech tool at home or on the go? Edtech has made learning possible anytime and anywhere. When considering adopting an edtech product, make sure that students can use the tool outside of the classroom, without being tied to the school network or a school device. If a student is struggling with verb tenses and would like to practice at home, why shouldn’t they be able to? Any edtech tool worth its salt should allow students to use it on the go.
What did we miss?