ESSA and education technology: 5 reasons for optimism
February 23, 2017
Commentary: The Every Student Succeeds Act, if taken advantage of, could seriously alter the teach-to-the-middle, manufacturing-based approach to modern schooling.
Complex education research is distilled into easy, digestible soundbites to help improve product development.
Corinne Lestch is a staff reporter covering education for EdScoop and its affiliate public sector technology news websites, FedScoop and StateScoop...
Digital Promise has a new way of connecting edtech developers and educators in the classroom, with online resources that can help them hone their activities and products.
The nonprofit education advocacy group launched a video series called Research@Work, which delves into complex educational topics and breaks them down into easily digestible soundbites. The videos feature key research experts, school leaders and students.
"It's thinking about how we might increase research use in the design and development of educational programs and products," Aubrey Francisco, research director at Digital Promise, said in an interview. "This video series is aimed at connecting educational leaders and edtech developers with education learning and science research findings that they can use for their work."
The first video that came out is on English language learners, and focuses on how edtech products can support ELL students. The nearly two-minute video features an education professor from Stanford University who talks about how teachers can make meaningful interactions with students through language apps.
"It's focused on the importance of context when teaching English, as opposed to just focusing on memorizing vocabulary words," Francisco said of the video.
The Stanford professor "explains how it’s valuable to actually show what you’re talking about, and the video actually allows us to provide a visual representation of that," she added. "So it's easier for our audience to think about how to use that when designing a product potentially to be used in the classroom."
Videos will be released on Wednesdays on Digital Promise's website, with topics that come out of the organization's research map, which includes cognition and learning, online learning, attention and memory, student motivation and teacher learning. The target audience is wide, and includes anyone across K-12 as well as edtech developers.
The video about memory "provides suggestions for how educators might understand where a student might be having working memory difficulty, and strategies they can use to support that when a child is learning how to read," Francisco said.
Another video is focused on the concept of self-determination, which talks about fostering autonomy and competence in students.
"It's for educators thinking about how they might motivate their students," Francisco said.
The topic of another video revolves around improving long-term memory in students through the process of recalling information. There is also one that deals with learner variability, "thinking about the spectrum, from a normal reader to a dyslexic reader," Francisco said.
"It focuses on variations in attention and what role that plays in [students who have] autism," she said.
Yet another video focuses on how developers can design technology products for supporting math learning, and a different video shows how students with disabilities can advocate for themselves.
"We work with our League of Innovative Schools network and share videos directly with them," Francisco said. "We showed our motivation video and several district leaders ... expressed that they found it really valuable, and asked for links. So we are seeing some excitement amongst League leaders in having these digestible videos that they can share."
Experts at Digital Promise said they hope the research embedded in these videos can prod new, deeper ways of thinking about these topics in educators and edtech developers.
"I think the goal is for us to get educators and product developers to think about going to the research more often when they're trying to solve a challenge or thinking about how they're going to design a product," Francisco said. "Educators might think about how it might change the way they think about something and how they approach a problem."
Editor's note: This article stated that 12 videos would be released every Wednesday. There will actually be 12 videos released by spring. EdScoop regrets the error.