What is today’s call to action?
It has been nine months since students have walked the halls of our school building. Nine months of transforming how teaching and learning take place… countless hours spent researching, planning, surveying, and more meetings than I can remember…. all this time spent on how we will support our students across learning environments, yet we still feel we are missing the mark.
I find myself coming back to, two simple questions: What is the need? and How Can I help? My answer, providing a better student experience. Let us start looking at education through a different lens. Our students and even their parents are our best customers. How can we provide a better user experience for them? Our goal as educators needs to be focused on supporting our, “best customers,” to find the information they need easily and to send information back with the same ease of use.
This concept sounds simple, however my students, parents, and fellow colleagues would all share feelings of frustration, annoyance, and exhaustion. Yes, schools do have and utilize technology to continue teaching and learning in any environment remote, blended, or in person but we are not maximizing the benefits of technology to provide a streamlined, interoperable, unified user experience. The rushed pivot to remote and hybrid learning has proved that the technology being implemented in the classroom is filled with disparate systems and disjointed user experiences.
To better maximize the use of technology in education, focusing on the following three areas would truly support our students, parents, and educators or better yet our, best customers.
- Accessibility: Do not assume all learners are using a laptop / computer vs a mobile device. Ensure information is accessible and understandable to all learners. Both technology and software need to be inclusive of all learners both in general education and special education.
- Unified platform: Where our “customers,” receive information, find information, and send information needs to be consistent and through a single source. Where to find classwork, submit homework, and receive updates from school, needs to be streamlined from a single, consolidated location. Too often, extra time is spent searching multiple sources for information which leads to frustration for many of our customers; it becomes difficult to remember where to go for each type of activity., and keep try of multiple logins for multiple platforms. One place, one source, one platform to enable teaching, learning, and communicating across digital platforms and classroom learning is what our customers, need.
- Ease of Use: Is the technology we are bringing into the classroom interoperable with the schools’ current systems? Does the technology alleviate teacher workload? Is there evidence that this will provide a positive impact for student engagement? There are many education technology tools available, but we need to be willing to ask the right questions and identify which tools are needed to best support teaching and learning and consolidate them. District leaders must include principals and teachers in these conversations. Their insight is invaluable as they are every day on the front line trying to engage and provide the best user experience.
As educators, we have a call to action on how to best serve our students. These ideas are just a few of mine. Collectively, we are all reevaluating how to provide a successful education through the pandemic and beyond. We must make the effort to ask ourselves What is the need? and How can I help?