Leverage the latest research for education technology tools that educators need

A teacher works with a student on the computer for educational technology
(Image credit: CoWomen/Unsplash)
At every turn in the pandemic, technology has helped us stay safe while maintaining our connections depends on. This was true of medicine. This was true of families separated due to social distancing. This is certainly true when it comes to educational technology.

Sandra Liu Huang Education Technology Headshot

When classrooms were closed across the country for the first time in 2020, it wasn’t clear how or if students would continue to get the support they need. But, as always, the teachers stepped up. They have adapted new technologies to help their students navigate the moment. They have worked heroically to improve existing systems and develop new technologies to keep students engaged. They showed incredible resilience, and so did their students.

Of course, despite all of these efforts, we also know that many students struggled to stay involved Are passionate about learning – and worry about the academic, health and emotional consequences It can be long lasting. All the more reason, then, to keep looking for ways to serve students better.

There’s a lot we can do to build on what we’ve learned over the last three or so years, to help Students and teachers are reframing their sense of connectedness, and addressing aspects of education that She wasn’t even working before the pandemic.

We can start by rethinking the tools, technical and otherwise, that teachers are equipped with. And the Rather than simply trying to replicate existing online classes, we need to incorporate the latest learning Scientifically research every new tool – and make sure it’s easy to access, use, and interact with students no matter where they are. There has been some notable progress recently in this area – but we are You can and should make it the norm.

Employment research in educational technology

Currently, some critical research on learning and development rarely reaches our goals Classroom. Teachers are not always invited to participate in building tools aimed at this serve their needs. Often, these tools are not designed to respond to unique and specific issues individual classroom contexts.

Imagine if this were true in other areas. What if medical researchers discover a new breakthrough It would have saved tens of thousands of lives – but instead of being put into practice, this research just sat there on the shelf? What if a surgical instrument was developed by engineers with the latest research on touch And artificial intelligence, but without meaningful input from the surgeons who will actually use it?

This is exactly what often happens with science learning and research, leaving what we know About how students develop and learn outside the classroom. This dynamic has been around for a long time pandemic.

For example, many schools continue to use the “three signals” theory of reading comprehension (which It is suggested that readers guess the words primarily to make sense) even though it was Cognitive scientists debunked it More than 20 years ago. Now, millions of young readers still suffer because we failed to integrate research into education technology when it mattered most.

There are countless examples like this. It needs to change now.

Tools created for educators, with educators

One of the main ways to drive this shift is through education technology — though, to be clear, it’s not a silver bullet. There is no substitute for dedicated teachers. But if advanced search can become pivotal Developing better tools that respond to teachers’ overall needs, we can build an education system It best serves students and educators during this pandemic and beyond.

We’ve seen examples of how this approach can lead to significantly better results. even before pandemic, research shows Most of the teachers experienced stress and anxiety at alarming levels And the Today, teachers are fighting New challenges for their mental health. This is particularly troubling yet Considering that Emerging research Suggested when teachers are struggling emotionally, student well-being Academic success can be affected.

Enter the pioneering work of Healthy Minds Innovations. Founded in 2014, the organization It creates educational technology tools powered by the latest neuroscience insights to help people improve their well-being. The Application based training programmeAvailable free to the general public, it is designed to help users build resilience in four areas: Awareness, Communication, Insight, and Purpose.

Technology testing with teachers

In response to teachers’ growing need for mental health support throughout the pandemic, HMI and HMI Partner, Center for Healthy Minds, is in contact with educators across Wisconsin. Use Podcast-style lessons, teachers learn about the science of the brain, and through guided meditations develop skills to support themselves in and out of the classroom.

Four weeks later, participating educators from the Madison Metropolitan School District showed up Lower rates of psychological distress and loneliness, and these improvements were still seen in HMI Follow-up after three months. teachers too Show significant increases in alertness and breathCompassion and general welfare.

“The learning and practice sessions basically help me and allow me to pause and practice the strategies that I can said one MMSD teacher. “The app teaches me to go about my day with more intention, appreciation, and healthier relationships with others, even during times of high stress.”

While teachers have undergone a seismic shift in their learning environments, many have also struggled to measure it. Overall well-being of individual students. While teachers can actually track a student’s academics Progressing and maintaining a healthy relationship based on trust with them is becoming increasingly difficult. and since then Research has shown that a strong relationship with an adult is critical to student learning And well, teachers needed a tool to help them communicate remotely.

In response, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Gradient Learning have teamed up with researchers and educators to build Along, a free digital reflection tool designed to help educators make each of their students feel seen and understood. Inspired by the Research Institute’s applied research on building developmental relationships, Along provides teachers with a series of research-informed questions that help students open up to what’s really on their mind. Teachers then log into the dashboard where they can access, organize, and respond to all of their students’ reflections.

Before it was officially launched – and even now as we continue to improve the product – it was Collaboratively reviewed and tested by experts, educators, and students across all student ages and school contexts. It is just one example of how the combination of educational technology, research insights, and student and teacher input can comprehensively transform learning societies.

Building the future of learning together

Translating research into practice is a difficult process, but when we make sure it goes deep Collaborative and interdisciplinary, it was created with teachers to solve the challenges teachers face, and the benefits for them Students are immeasurable. And while this interruption in learning as usual was painful, it was also an opportunity for processing Deficiencies revealed by the pandemic and building on teachers’ innovation and flexibility The students continue to pretend.

It is up to all of us in the education technology community to ensure that every perspective of every stakeholder – educators, students, researchers and engineers alike – is actively engaged in this work. Because together we have the power to build a better future.

We must seize this opportunity.

Sandra Liu Huang is the Chief Education Officer and Vice President of Product for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Prior to joining CZI, she was Head of Product at Quora, where she oversaw its growth to 100 million unique users per month. Sandra previously led product development in roles at Google and Facebook.

The opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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