On January 16th, DC Ed Tech and YEP DC (Young Education Professionals DC) cohosted an event entitled “Hype or Hope? An Exploration of Emerging Education Technologies” and attended by 80 educators, innovators, and members of the Washington, DC education and technology community. The panel of Dr. Elias Carayannis, Abbey Goldstein, Laurel J. Horn (Special Education Teacher at Thurgood Marshall Academy), Kijana Mayfield, and Maura Marino discussed innovation and its purpose in education, debating the value of the much maligned and praised role of technology in education. The presentations that followed showed exactly how the innovation was being implemented.
The panelists generally agreed that technology is not a “fad” for education, and as an industry it is important to show how to successfully implement new technologies and methods in schools. Technology is not going away and has a real opportunity to revolutionize education; however it should not be implemented solely because it is technology, but to solve a problem.
There are many problems and struggles in education that would benefit from new solutions, but applying an innovative technology just because it is innovative is generally ineffective. The teacher on the panel mentioned several instances where she was asked to utilize something just because it was new and innovative and it didn’t work. However there were other instances where technology had simplified classroom procedures or created solutions for teaching and learning difficulties. Ms. Horn’s examples of successful technology implementation included the use of Mimio boards, Kindles (used for the reading impaired) and blended school software like Education Elements.
Presentations by DC-based companies Naviance, AlwaysPrepped, LearnZillion, and SchoolForce capped off the evening. These four show-and-tell style presentations gave an opportunity for companies to show off their products to the gathered crowd of education industry enthusiasts. Several of the presentation/discussions allowed teachers and developers the opportunity to interact and understand the role of each in the classroom. Some of the presenters were in fact teachers previously and had developed their products to solve a need within their own classrooms; LearnZillion was created by a principal at a DC school looking to solve communication problems between classroom and the home.
So, is Ed Tech hype or hope? SIIA members say hope, but the key is solving educational problems and making products that teachers and schools need and can use. For the past five years SIIA has run an Innovation Incubator Program that reviews many applicants like those companies who presented at the Hype or Hope event. We see many great products that give hope to students struggling to learn and the industry at large. Look for the new innovations we find at our Ed Tech Industry Summit in May!
Lindsay Harman is Market and Policy Analyst for the SIIA Education Division.