Wednesday, October 15, 2014

EdTech.... What to do? Start Small.


A scathing article in the LA Times highlights how LAUSD adopted a district-wide student information system, at the cost of $212 million. The system is now plagued with glitches, server crashes, lawsuits and even a court ordered state intervention in one high school to fix scheduling problems that was preventing students from taking the classes they needed to graduate. This comes on the heals of their Pearson/Ipad Debacle. In that case the district spent 1 billion on a an initiative to bring 1:1 ipads with Pearsons software to the entire district. In what many believe was a shady bidding process - involving emails between the district superintendent and executives from both companies - a program that was intended to be 1:1 has only 1 computer per every 245 classrooms. The contract with Apple and Pearsons has now been cancelled.

It is not surprising that districts like technological solutions.
In fact, LAUSD's student information system was born out of a lawsuit in which it was found that paper student records where simply being lost. But when there is the belief that there can be magical, district wide technology solutions, big business is happy to step up and provide those solutions.
The K-12 market is tantalizingly huge: The U.S. spends more than $500 billion a year to educate kids from ages five through 18. The entire education sector, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than the energy or technology sectors. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/02/usa-education-investment-idUSL2E8J15FR20120802)

Companies such as Pearsons Education - a company that was valued at 1.5 billion dollars in 2011 - have an interest in getting and keeping their share of the education marketplace. In fact, Pearsons spent over $6 million over the past decade just in federal lobbying. This speaks nothing of their sales force and efforts to get district-wide adoption of their products and services.

So how do we stem the tide of the one-size-fits-all technology solutions... Go small! Find a technology champion at your school, empower them to try new things, to innovate. Be skeptical of district imposed technological solutions... see if there is something out there that fits your school. A product that is right for empowering your students and staff.




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