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Six Challenge Summary

Hope this blog post finds you well! 🙂  We are back for a brief wrap-up our blog series on addressing the six challenges schools face when it comes to rolling out a successful technology PD initiative.  

Our team has spent the last several years developing and iterating to create an innovative, modern professional learning solution that addresses the challenges preventing successful technology PD for educators.  Let’s quickly review the challenges we’ve discussed…

  • Buy-in from educators - Are your educators and staff motivated and invested in their professional growth when it comes to technology?
  • Personalization - Does the PD that’s available offer learning that meets the unique needs and goals of each individual?
  • Sustainability - Is your technology PD providing ongoing, job-embedded learning opportunities that can be leveraged at anytime, anywhere?
  • Time - Does your training value teachers’ time, use time wisely, and keep teachers in the classroom during instructional hours? 
  • Logistics + Resources - Do you have the bandwidth and resources to efficiently plan effective professional development that meets the needs of all stakeholders?
  • Cost of PD - Is the training you provide cost effective, or are you finding yourself spending gobs of money on sit-and-get, single-session or one-day trainings?

I want to take this opportunity to ask you to reflect on our previous posts and the importance of solving these six challenges.  Are your current methods of professional development meeting your teachers’ needs, engaging them based on their individual goals and interests?  Do you have the resources, such as training personnel, to support all teachers and provide ample learning opportunities? What is holding you back from full technology adoption and seamless integration of Google and other tools?  Whichever challenges you might be facing as a leader or educator, we are here to help.  

Please reach out to us anytime (simply click here) to talk with our team about your unique challenges when it comes to implementing professional development… We’d love to hear from you!

Part 6: Cost

We are back once again to provide you tips on addressing the six challenges to a successful Google PD initiative.  Today we are discussing Challenge #6 - the often prohibitive costs of professional development. 

So, what’s the problem?  Well, the financial costs are often too much to offer sustainable face-to-face PD at scale, meaning that it’s difficult to provide ongoing, job-embedded training that includes and benefits everyone within an educational organization.  

Every district is different and is impacted by different costs, so like many things we’ve already discussed, this is not a one-size-fits-all issue. But, what we can do is invite you to think about both the known costs and “hidden” costs that may impact your particular scenario.  Our goal today is to highlight some of the more common cost elements of traditional PD and how we can overcome them when they prevent us from providing necessary professional development to every single teacher.

On the chart below, we share some cost scenarios that might apply to schools and districts when trying to plan PD for all teachers.  For instance, if you have to provide subs for your teachers when they are doing PD, you’re looking at an average cost of $100 per sub.  When leaders ask teachers engage in PD during off contract hours like summers, weekends, or after school, a conservatie cost for a stipend is around $25.00 per hour.  

If you are asking your teachers to get Google certified, then you or your teachers will have to spend $10 dollars for the Google Certified Educator Level 1 exam - and $25 for the Level 2 exam.

If you don’t have the resources to facilitate your own PD, and you need to hire a trainer on a one day contract, you are typically looking at $3,500 per day which may or may not include travel and expense costs.  You may even have to consider the costs of extraneous things such as gas, time, and food for the attendees at an event or training.

ALLOCATION OF SPEND

COSTS

subs

$100 Per Sub Avg

Off Contract Hour Stipends

$25 Per Hour Avg

Google Certification Vouchers

$10 - Cert 1 / $25 - Cert 2

One-Off Contract Trainers

$3,500-$4,000 Avg Daily Rate

Other Costs (Gas, Time, Food)

Vary by Schools & Districts

So, let’s say we have the need to internally train 100 teachers to prepare them for the Google Certified Educator Level 1 exam.  With 100 subs and the costs of certification vouchers you might spend around $11,000. With MobileMind subscriptions, your cost could be as low as half that for double the number of teachers to have *year-round access* to personalized Google professional development that is aligned to Google certifications.

scenario

traditional

mobilemind

100 Teachers trained by school resources internally for Google Cert Level 1

Subs & Vouchers

$11,000

As low as

½ the cost for double the number of teachers, for year round access

Next, we have a two-day Google Summer Summit where we’re going to train 100 teachers.  Factoring in a paid trainer, their travel and expense, facilities & food costs and potential stipends, you are looking at potentially spending above $15,000 for just two days of training.  The MobileMind cost in this case could be even lower than ½ the cost, but again providing Google PD to double the number of teachers with year-round access.

scenario

traditional

mobilemind

Two Day Google Summit for 100 teachers in the summer

Contractor, Facilities & Stipends

As much as $15,000 +

Lower than ½ the cost for double the number, for year round access 

We’re able to offer a more cost effective solution because we’ve developed a modern, innovative professional learning solution that is not beholden to the same legacy costs structures of traditional PD.  And with MobileMind, the vouchers required for taking Google certification exams are included at no additional cost, thus alleviating the financial burden that often exists with traditional face-to-face training. 

Allocation of spend

Costs

mobilemind

Subs

$100 Per Sub Avg

N/A

Off Contract Hour Stipends

$25 Per Hour Avg

N/A

Google Certification Vouchers

$10 - Cert 1 / $25 - Cert 2

N/A

One-Off Contract Trainers

$3,500-$4,000 Avg Daily Rate

N/A

Other Costs (Gas, Time, Food)

Varies by Schools & Districts

N/A

We hope you’ve enjoyed this post!  Stay tuned for our next post where we wrap up our “Six Challenges of PD” with a nice little bow in our final post of the series. 🙂

Part 5: Logistics + Resources

We are back once again to provide you tips on addressing the six challenges to a successful Google PD initiative. Today we are sharing what we’ve learned about challenge #5, logistics & limited resources.  

So, why logistics (a word more commonly heard in UPS commercials)?  🙂  

Well, since logistics involves a coordination of an operation involving many people and facilities, it makes sense when talking about traditional PD delivery, right? We have heard from countless instructional leaders that the task of training teachers spread out over many school buildings can be daunting. The combination of multiple physical locations and the distance between them increases the difficulty of facilitating sustainable training.

On top of this, in many schools and districts, there is typically a small number of dedicated resources for training.  This varies by district, but we see that the number of instructional resources relative to the number of teachers is very rarely a ratio that enables the easy facilitation of PD for technology like Google.  Finally, there is very little visibility that instructional leaders can tap into regarding how well teachers are doing after traditional PD offered. Do they need more help? Are they superstars who need a greater challenge?  Either way, teachers (like students!) need different levels and training and varied content that meets their skills level and learning goals, and instructional leaders need accurate visibility into teacher progress.   

As we’ve seen before in previous videos, MobileMind is cloud based, accessible by a Chrome Extension.  Anytime, Anywhere access to learning removes the physical barriers of training. And, while the value of face to face learning has undisputed merits, one off trainings are problematic when trying to provide  teachers up to date PD on rapidly changing technology like Google.  

At MobileMind we offer virtual personalized PD, so we can establish multiple schools or groups who can learn anytime and anywhere… during planning when they find 10 minutes or in their PJs at home... whenever works best for each individual teacher!  

What’s more is that district or school leaders have a birds eye view of teacher progress in MobileMind and how many teachers at each school are engaging in PD.  They can even drill down into any group to see how active each teacher is at a particular school have been in MobileMind.

Not only does this provide visibility for accountability, but leaders also can gain insights into training needs, teacher interest, struggling teachers, or previously unidentified teacher leaders. We can build up those teacher rockstars and begin to accelerate adoption and build internal capacity much more rapidly.

MobileMind’s cloud based, location management gives us the ability to facilitate sustainable and effective PD at scale, regardless of logistical challenges, while expanding the reach of instructional resources and providing actionable insights to assist teacher progress. Stay tuned for next week’s final tip on overcoming prohibitive costs of PD.  Until then! 🙂

Part 4: Time

We are thrilled to be back with a brief (how appropriate!) post about our next PD challenge: Time!  Or, perhaps more accurately, the lack of it… 🙂

There are a few challenging elements when it comes to the issue of time and facilitating effective PD.  

First, we struggle to find time to offer effective teacher training during the school day, week, and even the school year.  Not only does it consume quite a bit of time for the preparation itself, but you often have to remove teachers from classroom instruction and get subs - or have them dig into their own time for off-contract or after-hours PD.

Second, we must consider new information we now have regarding the impact of time in relation to actual learning.  What do I mean by that? Studies have shown  that our attention span has declined significantly and steadily since the year 2000, or since the internet and  digital tools really started to become mainstream. Several resources report these days that our attention span is actually less than that of a  goldfish. As educators ourselves, we’ve sat through hour-long and sometimes even day-long PD sessions that failed to meet our needs. It is truly easy to become very resentful when you feel that your time is not valued; we have felt this and have found through a great deal of research that we are not alone!  It is imperative that we acknowledge how much teachers already have on their plates, and then  act accordingly when designing educator training.

So, how has our team at MobileMind addressed the challenge of time?

At MobileMind we embrace micro-learning  and personalization. We have created what we call “micro-courses”, which are  comprised of very brief learning videos (never longer than 5 minutes!) supported by short, hands-on learning challenges.  In addition, the ability for a teacher to personalize his or her learning experience makes the learning process more efficient than one-size-fits-all training's that might not make the best use of educators’ valuable time.

Teachers can begin learning at the click of a (Chrome extension) button. They can filter their personal micro-course library by their own learning goals.  They can stop and then continue learning at any time to fit their busy schedules. Finally, they receive human feedback for each challenge submission, which further demonstrates how much we value each learner’s time and energy.  Within seconds, a teacher can click to begin learning something new… no subs needed, no more dreaded after-school training's, no more time wasted.

Stay tuned for our next blog post when we discuss the issue of planning + logistics with limited resources!

Part 3: Sustainability

In this post, we want to briefly discuss our third PD challenge - sustainability of professional development.  

The pace of change in educational technology can make it seem nearly impossible for teachers and edtech leaders to stay current on updates and new features.  Consider the constant evolution of Google tools, for example. With frequent updates to key Google tools, such as Google Drive and Classroom, there are simply not enough traditional training days to keep educators abreast of this dynamic suite of tools.

Many districts provided Google Classroom training during preplanning, for instance, only to watch Classroom undergo some pretty significant updates a month or so later.  We’ve also seen schools receive Chromebooks or launch G Suite in August or September, hoping that they can start using the tools before their first dedicated PD day a month or two later.  When we rely only on face-to-face training, we are at the mercy of the district schedule, and it might be weeks or even months before teachers can receive initial training or refresh training on tools they’re expected to be using in the classroom

This helps explain the major shift to the concept of “always on”, continuous learning. Educators need to have access to PD that they can hop into at anytime and from anywhere.  In addition, they need to up-to-date training on the tools they’re expected to be using on a regular basis. This means offering job-embedded, on-demand PD to our extremely busy educators that is regularly updated.

When developing the MobileMind professional learning hub, we kept in mind the need to be able to update our content quickly based on the fact that technology is constantly evolving. So, it is our job is to stay current with Google and share updates with educators so you don’t have to.  Because we embrace a micro-learning methodology, we can shift very quickly when Google updates or changes a G Suite tool, meaning we can update a course quickly for our teachers. 

Lastly, because we have made MobileMind easily accessible and available anytime, we are accomplishing our goal of facilitating meaningful job-embedded learning that is accommodating to teachers.  Our data of MobileMind average daily access times over the last couple of months suggests that the highest volume of teacher access occurs during school hours. This means that our google PD is valuable enough and time conscious enough that teachers are choosing the right time and place to learn for them, individually.  This can often also mean that they don’t have to learn after school hours following a long day of teaching. (We have facilitated quite a bit of after-school PD, and we all know that it is less than ideal!)☺️

We know that educators have so much on their plates, so to have anytime, anywhere access to sustained training at the click of a button is definitely a win!  In our next post, we’ll discuss the challenge of time when it comes to educator training.

Part 2: Personalization

We often discuss personalizing the learning experience for students, but traditional professional development typically fails to personalize professional development for our educators. Honestly, if you aren’t differentiating technology PD at scale for all your teachers, it’s a problem.

Teachers have told us countless times that a “one-size fits all” approach to technology training just doesn’t work, and research has revealed this issue repeatedly when it comes to traditional PD offerings.  If we train all teachers, leaders, and staff on the same content and in the same manner, we are marginalizing the majority of our adult learners and losing their interest from the very start, leading to failed technology adoption.  

If we want teacher buy-in, as discussed in our previous blog post, it is crucial that we provide differentiated learning experiences for teachers, just as we strive to do for our students.  So how do you effectively offer targeted technology PD based on varying proficiency levels? We can share how we tackle the PD buy-in hurdle by personalizing the learning experience for our schools.

First, every single MobileMind micro-course is differentiated between beginner, intermediate and 

advanced.  Most of the time teachers will fall into one of these three groups.  So, it is very easy for a teacher to start learning based on their relative knowledge of a Google tool.  Educators have the ability to rate their skill levels across Google tools, and their micro-course library will be tailored to meet their needs.  

Additionally, we have certification pathways that are also segmented based on proficiency.  For example, a brand new user to Google may need to complete some early foundational elements before they even think about things like Google Certification levels.  They could start with our G Suite Basics track. You may also have a veteran Google user wishing to earn Google Educator certification - or even Google Trainer certification.  We can help with that as well! We empower educators to choose their own learning pathways based on their knowledge and skills, as well as their professional goals.  

Finally, we even offer micro-courses specific to leaders and staff.  It’s great for an instructional leader to know what to look for in the classroom, for instance, but how can leaders leverage Google tools to improve school culture and productivity?  We’ve got you covered there, too!

Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll discuss the challenge of sustainability.

Part 1: Buy-in from educators

In our 6 part blog series we look at the biggest challenges of Traditional Professional Development in schools. In part 1 we look at the buy-in from educators. How do you get your teachers included in the buying process and buying into any EdTech product?

In the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation study Teachers Know Best, teachers report wanting professional development that is relevant, sustained, interactive, and teacher-driven.  They want to be respected as professionals. Understandably, teachers wish for their knowledge and experience to be valued, as well as considered during the PD design process.  

When teachers are required to sit through one-size-fits-all professional development, it is easy for them to become frustrated or even resentful. Unintentional PD design undoubtedly contributes to educators’ dissatisfaction with mandated teacher training, repeatedly leaving teachers with a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to any type of continued learning.  

Adult learning theories such as Knowles’ Theory of Andragogy proposed concepts that most certainly initiated a revolution in the world of adult education.   We know that educators (and all adults, for that matter) prefer professional development that is relevant to their needs and has practical use. Abundant research on adult learning has revealed the importance of offering learning opportunities that are problem-centered, self-directed, and lead to immediate utility of newly acquired skills.  

At MobileMind, we wholeheartedly believe that educators deserve high quality, meaningful professional development that is grounded in such research.  Providing PD grounded in said research is absolutely essential if any professional development initiative is to succeed. Our self-directed, personalized micro-courses allow teachers to guide their own learning.  

Each teacher is able to engage in training  that is relevant to his or her unique challenges, needs, and goals.  We want teachers to know that their time is valued and for everyone to find success, whether they are seeking Google certifications or a brand new Google users wanting to build foundational skills. We ensure they do by offering micro-courses that are geared towards learners at any level. Finally, our hands-on challenges not only model practicality of skills acquired, but also allow educators to begin creating materials they can use immediately in their classrooms and schools. 

To read the rest of our 6 part blog series including our introduction click here.

6 Challenges of Traditional Professional Development

Although there is quite a bit of in-depth research regarding effective professional development (PD) and best practices for educators, studies suggest that typical PD neglects to adequately address the needs of these adult learners.  Research on adult learning supports the fact that there is a disconnect between research-based best practice and the traditional PD models found in schools. Unfortunately, it is rather challenging to meet the needs of all adult learners in typical face-to-face professional learning.  The good news is that, with a more modern, virtual approach to PD, we are able to tackle such challenges, offering innovative personalized solutions for teachers.

In studies of educators’ dissatisfaction with traditional professional development, as well as leaders’ struggles with planning for teacher training, there are several themes that repeatedly emerge in the findings.  Challenges with traditional PD for teachers include, but are not limited to, issues such as:

In our next several blog posts, we will address each of these challenges and discuss how we can leverage personalized learning in order to meet the needs of all educator-learners, regardless of role or previous experience with G Suite.

Key Findings to the CoSN ‘Driving Innovation Tech Enablers’ Report

CoSN (Consortium of School Networking) is the premier North American professional association for school system technology aims. 

We are pleased to announce CoSN has released their third and final report on driving innovation in the K12 market. 

Want to know what this all means for you? Don’t worry we have put together the following simplified guide summarizing their findings along with our thoughts on what we think this means for the industry. If you'd like to read the full ‘Driving K-12 Innovations- Tech Enablers' report simply click here.
What is a Tech Enabler?

Tech enablers are supporting tools that facilitate more expansive opportunities and solutions in education.

Top 5 Tech Enablers
  1. Mobile Devices - Mobile devices connected to the internet enable access to knowledge and creative activities anytime, anywhere. Internationally, schools are using mobile devices to try and address digital equity issues - although mobile devices can also exacerbate gaps in learning opportunities.

  2. Blended Learning - A mix of face-to-face instruction and online learning reflects how people operate in the real world. Blended Learning can provide a much more personalized learning experience for students.

  3. Cloud Infrastructure - Shifting to cloud services makes teaching and learning resources more readily available in any location while also reducing costs.

  4. Extended Reality - Educators are beginning to use a mixture of augmented, mixed, and virtual reality to help students learn complex content whilst also giving them access to experiences that might otherwise be impossible (due to funding, geographical, or physical challenges).

  5. Analytics and Adaptive Technologies - Technologies that measure, analyze, predict, and customize student learning and other factors in student success could help educators individualize and adjust learning experiences for individual learners, build on student assets, and offer targeted support to address student needs.

Spotlighting Two Tech Enablers
Tech Enabler Number 1: Blended Learning

This tech enabler gets to the heart of driving K-12 innovation - shifting pedagogy and making digital leaps to transform learning experiences and prepare students to thrive in a digital world.

Exploring the Opportunity

While blended learning is nothing new, the current influx of more capable digital technologies means that it’s becoming ever more relevant. As this interest is amplified, heightened recognition internationally is highlighting that digital fluency is no longer a luxury in learning but an essential foundation for pursuing knowledge, collaborating, creating and solving problems.

As a result, more disciplined and nuanced approaches to blended learning have arisen over the past decade. According to Horn & Staker “Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns;

1 - at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path and/or pace;

2 - at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home;

3 - and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.

The Christensen Institute launched the Blended Learning Universe in 2016. They identified seven common blended learning models.

  1. Station rotation - students rotating through learning stations on a fixed schedule, where at least one station is an online learning station

  2. Lab rotation - the online learning station occurs in a dedicated computer lab

  3. Individual rotation - students rotate through stations, but on individual schedules set by a teacher or software

  4. Flipped classroom - students learn at home via online coursework and lectures, and educators use class time for teacher-guided practice or projects

  5. A la carte - students take an online course or courses with online educators in addition to other face-to-face courses

  6. Enriched virtual - students complete the majority of coursework online at home or outside of school, but attend school for required face-to-face learning sessions with a teacher

  7. Flex - students move on fluid schedules among online learning activities according to their needs. Teachers provide support and instruction on a flexible, as-needed basis while students work through course curriculum and content

All of the above can be adopted individually or used within a combination, which enables educators to blend digital technologies into teaching and learning.

Imagining the Potential

Linking to previous reports, blended learning is ‘a bridge to personalization’ (Caitlin Tucker). But, as she points out, blended learning is not synonymous with personalized learning.

“Blended learning, particularly models supported by adaptive learning programs and tools, enables teachers to match the right student with the right content at the right time. It is a core component of a personalized learning model... These models place the student at the center of the learning process, harnessing the power of technology to create more engaging, efficient, and success-oriented learning environments.” 

Report by the International Association for K–12 Online Learning (iNACOL)

Personalization is difficult to scale in the classroom without digital technologies. However, blended learning makes personalization possible when educators and students make regular use of timely, actionable information about student progress. Teachers can guide students to digital learning resources aligned to individual learning needs and preferences. 

“In blended learning… teachers often use time and space differently to give students more time for small group or individual work... which allows for the delivery of targeted intervention to and acceleration of specific students. Teachers are enabled and empowered to give on-on-one attention to the students who need it most.”

In Peru, this has been evident. Innova, set up by businessman Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor and IDEO, has become the largest private network nationwide, with plans to have 70 schools serving over 70,000 students by 2020. All schools rely on blended learning to inspire students with modern technologies and self discovery, splitting independent digital technologies with teacher-led collaborative sessions by 30-70 respectively. Innova takes a holistic approach to blended learning, making time for socializing, recreation and an innovation program for all students to focus on a social challenge. To support educators, themselves, Innova created the Teacher Resource Centre, with a catalog of 20,000 lesson plans from veteran teachers to inspire younger teachers.

“Blended learning can help to improve student voice, choice and engagement in learning. When used appropriately, it can also improve teacher efficiency while accelerating the learning process by personalizing instruction to meet the needs that individual students may have.”

 - Darren Draper, Director of Innovative Learning Alpine School District (UT)

Driving Innovation

In part, the popularity of blended learning represents a pullback from online-only coursework, which is best suited to highly motivated K-12 students with highly engaged parents. Too much screen time can be problematic for many students who need and want in-person teacher guidance. As a result, there is a major fear and risk of schools being out of balance with community expectations.

Blended learning should balance online learning with face-to-face social interaction with educators and peers. It is human contact that helps develop the fundamental skills of communication, collaboration and teamwork skills. These skills enable students to benefit from teacher guidance and support - even as they gain more choice and autonomy in the digital world. Blended learning programs should not neglect opportunities for students to develop these skills. 

“The personalized learning movement is often maligned by those who misconstrue the end goal to be the replacement of human connectivity with technology. On the contrary, personalized learning provides teachers with not only the models and tools to help create individual academic paths, but also the time and tools to connect with students on a deeper level.” 

- Tiffany Wycoff, author of Blended learning in Action and co-founder of LINC

Blended learning can help educators address a range of challenges and opportunities in student learning. In the US, districts and schools working with Digital Learning Collaborative are using blended learning programs to support a variety of educational goals, including;

  • Offering career and technical education
  • Addressing equity issues
  • Reducing dropout rates
  • Serving at-risk students
  • Providing world languages in a small district
  • Educating during extended emergencies

The Driving K-12 Innovation advisory board places particular emphasis on professional development to prepare leaders and teachers for pedagogical shifts. This also addresses a Top 5 hurdle: building the capacity of human leaders.

Tech Enabler Number 2: Analytics and Adaptive Technologies

This tech enabler recognizes powerful, behind-the-scenes technologies that are already making an impact on educational practices. Data analytics track student performance and other indicators of student success. Enabled by machine learning and AI, adaptive technologies learn as students learn, leveraging analytics to serve up tailored content that reinforces and propels learning. Although this is an emerging K-12 innovation, it is rapidly accelerating. The positive is that it could help educators overcome barriers and accelerate innovation. However, this particular tech enabler can cause tension between people and technology.

Exploring the Opportunity

Data analytics and adaptive technologies work in combination as tech enablers. Before technology arrived in education, school systems and educators already had plenty of data to digest, from student information and test scores to teacher gradebooks and observations to student work. Online learning platforms add volumes of data to the mix.

The added factor in this, however, is that with the introduction of software and algorithms, this removes the tedious process of sifting through mounds of data. These technologies can synthesize data from multiple systems and sources, discern meaningful patterns from broad sets of indicators, and communicate data findings with data visualization. Analytics technologies can generate data-based, actionable information for educators and students.

Adaptive technologies support both data analytics and personalized learning. They monitor and adjust to student learning in the moment serving up the next best lesson based on student engagement and success with discreet learning tasks. This can then help students immediately when they exhibit wobbly conceptual understandings, ensuring a smooth advance onto more challenging content as soon as they have met the learning objectives set.

Adaptive technologies can also feed newer kinds of data into data analytics systems. This log of data can enhance engagement, predicting learning performance and further monitors online collaboration.

Imagining the Potential

The biggest issue with data is the significant lag time between entering the summative data and the release of said data on student performance. Often this latter stage comes too late in the learning process to intervene and give children who need that additional support. This often has a massive impact on education.

Data analytics may offer a solution to this challenge. Analytics technologies provide more than a static, retrospective examination of a limited set of student indicators. A lot of increasingly sophisticated data analytics are using more data sets (including; longitudinal data sets, big data, machine learning and AI) to provide more timely information. Frequent, even real-time dynamic updates can make this data more relevant to educators daily practice. Thus creating a better balance between the weight of high stakes and formative assessment.

They can also give educators insights into what to expect in the future. Predictive analytics can help school system leaders “address multiple measures of progress on performance, from the student level to the teacher, school, district, system and state levels, through postsecondary performance, and into the workforce,” according to a report from the Southern Regional Education Board. “At the individual student level, failing to identify patterns in data will lead to missed opportunities to create personalized learning programs, or to intervene with at-risk students to ensure they complete high school or college. On a larger scale, that failure will result in misguided policies that invest precious resources in ineffective programs.”

Many companies and partnerships are trying to work together to harness the power of learning analytics, particularly data visualization. Based in India, The Learning Analytics Collaborative uses ‘visual data engines’ to support student reflection on learning; predict extra supports that students require; help teachers plan learning opportunities, improve current courses or develop new curricula; and make decision on efficiency and effectiveness measures. As a result, educators can use  analytics to actually address predicted outcomes.

Driving Innovation

The promise of data analytics is the ability to deeply understand student needs, progress and competencies in the moment which will fully inform educational practice. But there are headwinds to consider.

Data privacy is the key concern. Educators must think carefully about which data they will collect, what purpose the data will serve, who will have access to this data and safeguarding that data. Emerging technologies are starting to build in this area which are starting to alleviate these concerns.

Data quality is another issue with analytics as well. Experts use the succinct ‘garbage in, garbage out’ to emphasize how important it is to use valid, reliable, accurate and complete data.

The final key challenge with data analytic software is the human role. Technologies and algorithms cannot replace educators’ knowledge of their students, pedagogical expertise, or the guidance and support that only teachers can provide. Data analytics should empower teachers and students to make decisions. Adaptive technologies can be used to support personalized instruction and save time for personal interactions.

Conclusion

The two tech enablers spotlighted in this report are in different stages of adoption within the K-12 sector. Blended learning is gaining international recognition and is integrally connected to personalization, a key accelerator. Whereas, analytics and adaptive technologies are still very much in the early stages of K-12 adoption. This can be down to the reliance of human data entrance and an unreliance on rapidly evolving technologies.

Both tech enablers hold promise as mechanisms for providing more learner-centred, differentiated educational experiences that better prepare students for the digital world in which they live. Both present opportunities for educators to be more effective at engaging individual students while challenging educators to balance powerful (and useful) technologies with their own expertise and human touch.

The CoSN Advisory Board fundamentally believes these tech enablers address virtually all top hurdles and accelerators to innovation. They recommend initiating conversations with your community, considering how you can turn these tech enablers into solutions.

What we think

Although we regularly discuss topics such as blended learning, analytics, and personalization for our K-12 students, we do not always consider ways in which we can leverage such concepts to transform learning for our educators.  At MobileMind, we believe that infusing virtual learning for teachers and staff is a must if we are to provide quality, personalized professional development. We should be maximizing the benefits of modern learning models for educators just as we do for our students.  In addition, utilizing reporting data is essential in order for district leaders and instructional coaches to better support our adult learners in the K-12 space as they learn to adopt new technologies to transform learning for our students. Finally, we should be modelling modern strategies for our educators if we are expecting them to engage in an instructional shift. 

Change is difficult, and MobileMind is here to help transform learning with G Suite in your district!   To get started, you can check out our planning tool that will help you plan for meaningful professional learning for your educators! https://mobilemind.io/5-steps-turn-school-districts-into-gsuite-experts/

We hope you’ve found our simplified breakdown of the CoSN ‘Driving Innovation Tech Enablers’ Report useful. Click below to view our blogs breaking down the previous two reports released by CoSN.

Click here to read our abridged guide to the CoSN report on ‘Driving Innovation Hurdles’

Click here to read our abridged guide to the CoSN report on 'Driving Innovation Accelerators'

In the meantime if you’re interested in kick-starting your technology innovation journey, download our free PD Planner here: https://mobilemind.io/5-steps-turn-school-districts-into-gsuite-experts/

Why is G Suite the best solution for your teachers and students?

Google is one of the most trusted brands internationally.

If you mention a search engine, Google is often the first answer. If you think about email, Gmail is the one most people use. But did you know that Google owns YouTube? And did you know there are so many great, simple tools that can work for your school district and in turn, your schools.

Google has developed potentially the greatest educational commodity in G Suite. Everything you need in one place: Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and much more.  In 2006, Google launched G Suite for Education (previously known as Google Apps for Education), ensuring that all staff and students could log in and utilize Google in one place rather than a large annual subscription for multiple licenses from other competitors. In addition, the launch of Google Classroom has proven a new level of commitment from Google to the educational community.  Google strives to listen to educators, making informed decisions and regular software updates based on teacher feedback provided within G Suite apps such as Google Classroom. Bottom line - G Suite for Education is already an amazing solution for schools, and it is improving at a rapid rate to best meet the needs of teachers and students.

Ensuring all schools within your district are on the same page is incredibly important. If schools are using different software, this can cause an absolute headache for you overseeing and supporting the technology. Having G Suite within your schools enables everything to be on one platform and  controlled within one administrative panel.

The technology adoption challenge is evident in our K-12 classrooms, often resulting from a lack of effective professional development (PD). Even if PD is offered to educators, it may, unfortunately, consist of “sit and get”, one-size-fits-all training that fails to address the unique needs of our adult learners. This hinders teachers’ ability and motivation to appropriately infuse technology into their practice. We often talk about personalizing learning for our students, and we believe this begins with personalizing professional learning for our teachers and leaders.

Ensure you get a headstart now and download our free PD Planning Template here!

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