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Five Questions Educators Need to Ask EdTech Companies

Five Questions Educators Need to Ask EdTech Companies

Using technology in the classroom is becoming a popular trend among schools nationwide; however, one research scientist and STEM educator believes that there are a few questions educators must ask about the technological tools they use.

“Dedicated teachers who care about the kids they teach are rightly suspicious of ‘educational reform’ initiatives led by people who have no teaching experience,” says Gene Levinson, a research scientist, STEM educator and chief executive officer of the SmartNoter social enterprise, according to Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post. “Companies claiming to motivate kids, help them to learn and gain deep understanding, improve critical thinking skills or instill lasting knowledge and real-world applicable know-how should pass certain tests.”

In order to test the companies that provide EdTech tools, Levinson outlined five questions that educators need to ask.

Does the EdTech company put kids before a profit is the first question addressed by Levinson. Education technology is among one of the largest growing businesses nationwide. In a recent article posted to EducationWorld, it was revealed that Digitals Assessments generated $2.5 billion in revenue from the 2012-2013 school year alone. What educators need to ask is whether or not EdTech companies are all about the money or have created genuine and effective tools for student productivity.

Levinson also believes that educators should ask if the company they are using was “founded by experienced teachers who care about kids and develop products based on those experiences. Following that question is whether or not the company then works with those teachers to complete the research aspect of in-classroom education to then develop their tools.

The questions then explore the company practices further by questioning whether or not the tools motivate students to learn, as well as how much they weigh the costs of delivery and accessibility over “standards, testing, data collection, and superficial judgments of teachers.” This question further tests the motivations of EdTech companies.

Levinson’s last question explores the quality of the content provided by their tools and whether or not it encourages deeper thought (critical thinking).

Levinson examined these questions, along with the do’s and don’ts for EdTech companies further in the WashingtonPost article. It furthers the notion that educators need to be more closely involved with the companies that develop the EdTech tools for the classroom.

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World contributor

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