Steven Siden, an IT engineer at Boeing, had this reflection on our first major collaborative meeting between technologists and teacher:
As someone who is fascinated by what technology can do, I am always looking for the next thing that it can impact for the better. Classrooms are slowly but surely becoming more digital, and there is lots of room to create and play in this space. Digital tools for teachers, students, administrators, teachers, and those that tie them all together are on the horizon. This is what drew me to to the meetup, in addition to my love of working with kids.
For me, there were a few main take-aways from the meetup:
1) In order for a product to succeed in the classroom, the main user needs to be involved in the creation process from the get-go. Teachers know what tools they will want to use, or what will make their job easier. It would be silly to not include them for their feedback.
2) Presently, teachers are data managers, most without any digital tools. They measure student progress towards by assessing, setting baselines, teaching, and assessing again, for all of their students. For teachers with 7 classes and 20 students per class, that’s at the minimum 140 “data points” at any given time. Many use three tools to help them with this: their gradebook, their lesson plan, and any paper they can grab a hold of to jot down notes. That’s an opportunity for a digital tool.
3) The biggest barrier that I see to a tool being successful is its barrier to entry, and it’s support. If a great new tool comes around that isn’t easy enough to use, it will fail. If there is no tribal knowledge or support between teachers, then it is at a significant disadvantage. Teachers rely HEAVILY on each other as tech support, because they’re often easier to get in touch with than IT. Any good tool that people want to create should take this to heart.
We have great reflections coming from our teacher participants as well, but most of them (including myself!) are busy finishing up the school year first! We’re excited to share more, and looking forward to our next preparatory meetups and our main event in October!!!