We’ve all learn the information over the previous yr, and it’s now not a shock that many colleges across the nation had been woefully unprepared for COVID-19. In accordance with one current survey, 9 in 10 educators count on know-how to play an elevated function within the coming years. However the pandemic made clear that regardless of dramatic will increase within the quantity of know-how utilized in colleges, all these new instruments fell quick when it got here to truly sustaining an efficient studying expertise throughout a world disaster.
As a rustic, we’re now staring down the barrel of unprecedented studying loss—and grappling with the truth that switching to distant studying was a lot tougher, and far much less efficient, than we had hoped it might be.
However that hasn’t been the case in all places. At my very own public college district in central Ohio, we’ve been capable of sustain a hybrid educational mannequin since August that has maintained a point of steadiness amid the chaos. We’ve hit far fewer bumps within the street than lots of our friends. And we are sometimes requested: “How did Pickerington handle to climate the storm so properly? When did you begin planning for this?”
Our Price-Saving Strategy
The reply would possibly sound disheartening at first: Our skill to make use of know-how and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic is not any fewer than seven years within the making. But it surely’s not too late for different colleges and districts to start out the method themselves.
Our strategy to selecting and implementing know-how didn’t seem in a single day. It began, pretty much as good concepts usually do, with a mistake.
A number of years in the past, we spent tens of 1000’s of dollars on a elaborate know-how product that, because it turned out, didn’t work very properly. It was a gamified math program for our center schoolers, and on its face, it was a homerun—participating content material, high-quality instruction and a assure from the seller that it was appropriate with the community and gadgets our district was already utilizing. Solely after it was too late did we understand we had purchased the device with out clearly mapping out how we might use it and figuring out whether or not it might truly work with our Chromebooks (it wouldn’t).
We vowed that might by no means occur once more and started brainstorming and constructing out an answer that might work for us.
We wished to develop a course of that might do two issues. First, we wished to save cash. That meant not buying software program licenses or know-how gear that was incompatible with different merchandise and instruments we had been already utilizing and deliberate to maintain. It additionally meant we had to make sure each new buy was aligned with our curriculum. Second, we wanted our know-how and curriculum departments to be on the identical web page, sending the identical message to our group of educators, college students and households and pursuing the identical objectives. We needed to set up belief and collaboration between the 2 departments; as a part of that, our know-how division agreed it might not buy digital content material applications with out the approval of the curriculum workplace.
Now, our tutorial know-how division and our curriculum division be a part of forces to start the tech planning course of in February for the next college yr. Utilizing an in depth course of we developed in-house, the 2 departments get suggestions from all stakeholders—classroom educators, IT infrastructure leads, buying decision-makers—which helps them resolve whether or not to maintain or scrap a given device. Our academics will consider the know-how they’re presently utilizing, suggest new software program and instruments, after which consider the brand new applications which have been proposed. It’s vital to the success of this strategy that each ingredient—outdated and new—is reviewed annually.
By the spring, our academics are already piloting new instruments within the classroom to get direct suggestions from college students and perceive whether or not the brand new know-how does what it says it’s going to—each when it comes to scholar outcomes and interoperability with our present applications. Come summer season, our departments are prepared to drag the set off on truly buying know-how, and say goodbye to the instruments that didn’t make the reduce.
It’s a time-consuming course of, and one which requires enter and collaboration throughout all sectors of the district. However since we put it into place, we haven’t wasted a cent on training know-how.
How It Can Work For You
As we collectively chart a path to restoration from the pandemic, what can different districts be taught from Pickerington’s work?
Our success isn’t resulting from any secret sauce. It’s the results of years of onerous work and collaboration—arguments, debates, creativeness and discussions that enabled us to get to the guts of what works for our college, in our distinctive context.
We encourage different districts to start out that course of themselves, as quickly as they’re ready. It received’t be straightforward, notably with the pressing wants of the pandemic nonetheless taking on beneficial effort and time. And it’ll depend upon loads of communication and information-sharing, just like the work we’ve achieved with the EdTech Proof Trade to assist extra colleges perceive what applied sciences work of their particular contexts.
The fact is that COVID-19 received’t be the one disaster that colleges and districts face within the years and many years to come back. And when these new challenges come up, districts that began the method sooner can be able to rise to fulfill them.