Regardless of where it is used, technology should ideally make things easier for everyone. It should allow everyone involved, from the developers to the end users, to increase their productivity, learn more, and advance and improve their techniques and output.
These things, when applied to the education system, seem very promising. Imagine a school so technologically advanced that students, teachers, and administrators alike revolutionize teaching and learning. This was probably the vision the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) had in mind.
In 2013, the city’s school district purchased and distributed iPads pre-installed with the Pearson curriculum. It was indeed a pioneer move that aimed to provide students and teachers an easier way of learning and teaching. Technology can be exciting – it can move us to act and respond in ways no other thing will do. However, it can also cause tunnel-vision, leading one to lose sight of the main goal of the advancement it aimed to provide. In fact, the LAUSD is now regretting its move.
Not all students can access the Pearson curriculum pack, and there are reports of inconsistent usage. Moreover, it turns out that there seemed to be a preference by the school superintendent for Apple and Pearson to be the primary providers—long before the bidding process even began. It seems that the ultimate goal of providing the technology was overlooked in favor of these big tech companies.
What worked? All is not as hopeless as it may seem on the EdTech front, however. The Milpitas Unified School District in California has made waves in how they were able to handle EdTech and utilize it properly. They purchased Chromebooks, a tablet that is much cheaper than the iPad, and distributed it to their schools. It allowed a more personalized education system even though students had to share it. Being cloud-based as well, it was easier to consolidate and update the content.
Behind this success is the forethought of why and how technology could benefit the education system. Milpitas School Superintendent Cary Matsuoka first determined what each and every school needed by reaching out to the teachers and administrators. In this way, these EdTech tools are not merely given without advisement from the ones directly involved. The tools are fitted exactly for what is needed and given to those who need them the most.
Everything is not as hopeless. The new LAUSD superintendent, Ramon Cortines, is now looking into how to solve the LAUSD problem. The main thing is not to focus on the mistake but to learn from it. There has now been a new budget approval to purchase more iPads and Chromebooks—not preloaded with the Pearson curriculum. These gadgets will mainly be used for testing.
This seems like the logical solution—if, and only if, the ultimate goal is not forgotten once again. School districts and administrators will need to answer key questions to ensure that this mistake is not repeated. They should focus on what the students need to learn, how they will learn it, and what will be the most effective tool to achieve all of these.
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