Got an idea for getting high-quality Edtech feedback from math teachers? Pay them.
When educators research and compare edtech tools, they’re not just looking for a solution to a problem. They are looking for a solution to their problem, tailored to the unique needs of their students.
So what’s the best way to choose edtech when what worked for a small district in the Midwest might not work the same for, say, an urban district in New England?
That’s what a new partnership between the EdTech Evidence Exchange and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics aims to establish. The goal is to pay thousands of math teachers – who work from early childhood education through high school – to give in-depth feedback on the edtech products they’ve used, information that will help their colleagues through the country to make more informed decisions about edtech for their own classrooms.
Thanks to the partnership, called EdTech Evidence Exchange Platform, about 1,500 math teachers participated in in-depth surveys and interviews, says Bart Epstein, CEO and founder of EdTech Evidence Exchange. Participants are paid $50 per hour to share their experiences with edtech.
Epstein and his aides are trying to bring some semblance of order to an edtech landscape that he says is deeply fragmented. Educators are inundated with edtech marketing, he says, but the country’s thousands of schools have no way to effectively learn from others’ experiences with edtech products.
“Each school wants to know what other schools are doing, what worked, what didn’t work, what they would do differently,” Epstein says. “It takes time to document in a standardized way. We want to know their environment. How did it work with your LMS? Some products can only thrive if teachers have enough planning time. »
The idea is that through the EdTech evidence exchange platform, information about edtech products will be able to flow freely. Educators can move away from reliance on Google searches, social media and word-of-mouth to find the technology they need, Epstein says.
Without the stipend, there would still be a population of teachers participating, he surmises.
“But it’s probably the super nerds who love technology and love to evangelize, the teachers who have relatively more free time, maybe they don’t have school-aged kids of their own. It would not be a representative sample,” Epstein says.
Rather, it is educators who feel their experiences are the least valued who are most needed, he adds.
“What works for teachers who face the most challenges, the most technological difficulties?” says Epstein. “If we can figure out which tools work for them, we can have a tremendous collective impact on their students, which of course is the goal.”
Among the programs first 1,000 attendees83% of educators said they are never, hardly ever, or only occasionally involved in the edtech selection process.
Mathematics teachers are recruited through partnerships in AlabamaNevada and Utah and with members of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Epstein says the School of Data Science at the University of Virginia is working on an algorithm that will match users with schools similar to their own, helping them sort through information efficiently.
“Just because my school and your school are across the river doesn’t mean we look alike,” Epstein says. “In schools that are dysfunctional like mine is dysfunctional, what has worked?”