Search form

The Adoption of EdTech in the Connected Classroom

It wasn’t long ago that the most disruptive technology tool to enter the classroom was the interactive whiteboard. But after some initial reluctance, educators quickly embraced the new instruction paradigm, and adoption of a once intimidating tool became the standard. Now, in many K-12 classrooms, the entire curriculum is now oriented around the interactive whiteboard. 

teacher with laptop and students

As technology continues to proliferate and advance in the world generally, the classroom and its instructors are finding ways to adapt, adopt and become adept at what at first blush might seem as disruptive at the Smart Board once seemed. And, in the process, teachers, students, parents and whole school districts are discovering how these innovations can lead to direct and tangible results in student achievement across an increasingly broadening spectrum of aptitude levels.

Customized Thinking for Customized Learning

As new and more robust education technology, or “edtech,” continues to grow and be adopted by educators across the U.S., the connectivity between teacher and student continues to grow. Teachers are integrating multimedia channels such as YouTube, Google Chromecast, and AppleTV into their lesson plans to create a more visual and integrated experience. Digital textbooks or e-books are making their ways into the classrooms with the upswing of tablet and mobile device usage. Learning management systems (LMS) are becoming more customizable to the individual student than ever before.

One recent example of the exciting potential of edtech is the Orton-Gillingham Lesson Planning and Assessment App, a suite of educational tools that allows classroom instructors to easily adopt and apply the widely acclaimed Orton-Gillingham educational materials, methodology and products.

Having studied and documented its effectiveness in instructing students coping with dyslexia, the Orton-Gillingham approach used since the 1930s is unique in that it utilizes three learning modalities, or pathways, through which people learn — visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

Though the methodology has been around for decades, trained instructors are able to now connect directly to the instruction tools and materials that they rely on in the multi-sensory educational approach, via computer, tablet or smart phone. Such advancements in teacher technology empower teachers to individualize how they teach children who learn differently, build lesson plans, collaborate and share with other teachers, assess student performance, and track progress and aptitude through metrics and analytics like never before — digitally.

Letting Teachers Teach

Working with students who have learning challenges, such as dyslexia, poses unique challenges for instructors in the classroom. Individualized learning is critical, which demands individualized lesson plans and materials. It’s time-intensive; it’s labor-intensive; and it demands that teachers create a specific learning path that is tailored to each individual student.

Creating, customizing, storing and recalling individualized lesson plans via paper-and-pencil, file-and-folder has placed tremendous administrative burdens on the teacher. As one teacher put it, “With pencil and paper, you’re starting from scratch every time you start building a new learning path. By doing it online in the app, all you have to do is create it once, save it, and call it up every time you want to use it. I can share it with other teachers, customize it to each student, and save it for future use again and again!”

Talk to teachers who have yet to find online tools to facilitate their instruction and they will all tell you the same thing: administrative burdens are consuming their days (and nights). They, in effect, deprive teachers of the time and resources to do what they do best — teach. But harnessing the power of technology via nimble, Web-based apps restores not only the time — but the passion! — to teachers who typically chose a career path to positively impact children’s lives, not push paper.

In order to regain that time and passion, it should be said, teachers will need to embrace an accelerated timetable to modernize the classroom with interactive tools that customize the learning environment while maximizing student performance, aptitude and progress by tracking and applying sophisticated metrics and analytics.

The adaption of smart technology just isn’t geared solely for the needs of the teachers, but also assists the needs of the students. Children today are being diagnosed earlier and more accurately than ever before with learning challenges such as dyslexia, ADHD, a form of autism, or other learning obstacles. Even the growth in learning English as a secondary language (ESL) is becoming more prevalent across the country. As a result, curricula like multi-sensory instruction are becoming more mainstream, further creating a need for technology to keep pace with the modernizing classroom.

The Dawn of a New Day

Adopting and adapting requires change. Some change is the state and federal level, and with the expansion of Common Core. Other change is simply a matter of thought-leaders and education systems being pioneers in the space by embracing the shifting education paradigm.

As that shift continues, it will not be out of the ordinary to see an increase of entire systems of educators partnering with inventive technology organizations to create their own customized “teacher tools.” These partnerships will work to demystify education standards and create accessible, intuitive and innovative tools that will allow teachers to comply and evolve in an agile, adoptable way.

Teachers will get back to teaching. They will regain the time and passion to put their hard-earned training to work. In the end, it is the child — up and down the spectrum of learning ability — who will benefit the most.

And like technological breakthroughs everywhere, it will be the innovators and early adopters who will reap the earliest and greatest rewards when it comes to personal and professional fulfillment…as well as the educational fulfillment of their students.


Article by Jeanne Jeup, contributor. Jeup is the co-founder of the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education based in Northville, Mich., trainers in the Orton-Gillingham methodology nationally.