Bootstrap your EdTech

“Bootstrap” your EdTech

 

To “bootstrap” indicates to get started, develop, or create under one’s own efforts, finances, maybe even, ingenuity, with little or no assistance from others.

 

We often hear about entrepreneurs and start-up companies that “bootstrapped” it until they “made it.”  It’s a good term.  It’s relevant.  Additionally, Bootstrap is actually a “mobile first” front-end development tool for HTML, CSS, and JS.

 

There is an overwhelming amount of educational technology available to choose from for students, teachers, and administrators.

First, start with why.

 

Is there really a need for all of these tools?  In my opinion, yes.   There are certain online programs that provide value that are worth the cost, effort, and implementation.  Programs that allow for personalized learning paths, that are “adaptive” and personalized – remediating, or advancing, a student “real-time” – and those that provide educators invaluable analytics and insight into a child’s performance and mastery towards standards.  There’s also some awesome programs that facilitate creativity, collaboration, and discussion among students.

 

However, there is redundancy among many of the edtech tools that we have access to. So, continue to evaluate if your students and teachers are getting value from those online programs that you use.

 

Then, “bootstrap”, the rest.  What I mean by this, is utilize the free online tools that bring a lot of value.  Ask yourself, “Are you fully utilizing the online programs that are free?”

 

One of the biggest players in the truly free for educators market is G Suite for Education.  With a bit of creativity and understanding of the power of GSfE, you can implement everything from blended learning to differentiated instruction to collaboration and interaction with your community.

 

Here’s a few tips and concrete examples:

 

 

  • Google Hangouts: Find and develop connections in your curriculum/content to local (or global) specialists willing to share some relevant experiences.

 

      • Here’s an example: fifth graders engaged with nurse practitioners and transplant coordinators from The Lung Transplant Program at New York-Columbia Presbyterian University Medical Center to learn more about the respiratory system as part of their science curriculum.

 

  • Google Docs/Slides: Manage formative assessment feedback and comments using Action Items.

 

  • Google Forms: Have students create surveys for projects.
  • Google Sites: Almost limitless.
  • Create a site that stores all of your curated resources, videos, links, Docs, Slides, Forms, assessments, etc. for a project.  Facilitate student self-paced activities, blended learning, and share your created or approved instructional content through a Site.

 

      • Student created portfolio sites.  Create the opportunity for students to share the work they are proud of throughout the year.  Students will surprise you with their creativity and engagement when you simply give them a platform to express themselves.
      • Create a teacher site.  Make this as simple or robust as you would like. The canvas is blank for your creation.

 

 

 

Beyond Google for Education there are so many edtech tools that can enhance instruction, increase student engagement, and personalize and differentiate learning.

Without diving deep into these tools, here’s a bunch of online programs that are free for teachers:

 

Curiosity Machine

 

Khan Academy

 

The Lawrence Hall of Science

 

Math IXL (limited free for teachers)

 

Matific

 

National Science Teachers Associations

 

National Science Digital Library (NSDL)

 

Padlet

 

PBS Learning Science

 

Pear Deck

 

Peergrade

 

Science Interactives

 

TenMarks (limited free for teachers)

 

Smithsonian Education

 

Understanding Science

Data Informed

Data informs every aspect of decision-making.  The flowchart below is a look at how data collection, asking questions, finding answers (not the answers you want, but discovering what the data says) informs everything from “What do our teachers value?” to “Why and how should we pilot a new program?” to “What professional development does our staff want and need?”

 

 

The Iceberg Model

The Iceberg Model is an awesome visual and analogy that helps you visualize and uncover the underlying causes of the events we see (the portion of the iceberg above the surface).

The analogy works because there is always an unseen portion of an iceberg that lies below the surface and with events, there are values, structures, and patterns that lead to the event.

Once you uncover the underlying structures, you can start to leverage those to transform and design outcomes or prevent unwanted outcomes.  You can use high value and high leverage concepts like the beliefs and values of your organization to create desired and positive outcomes.

 

Future of EdTech: Predictions and Hopes

Here are my predictions and hopes (in no particular order) for the not so far off future of how educational technology will impact teaching and learning.

  • Classrooms, schools, and districts will be truly paperless.
    • G Suite for Education will become more robust in features and capabilities for students and teachers.
  • Computer Science (coding) will become required courses and learning paths for students.   
    • Code.org, Codeacademy, Udacity, and many, others will become commonplace options for blended learning models for computer science instruction.
  • Mixed Reality, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality will (continue to) infuse its way into experiential, game-based, and problem-based learning.
    • Experiential projects to learn content
    • Experiential projects to help students make better decisions about learning and career pathways.
  • Artificial Intelligence will help teachers make data-driven decisions (from all online sources), personalize curriculum and content, and better assist their learners.
    • Plus conversations about strengths/opportunities for growth will help students understand how they learn best.
  • Adaptive learning programs will continue to be used, producing competency data easily accessible by teachers and SISs, LMSs, and “AI” dashboards “integrating” with other programs.
  • Devices and WiFi will get better, more secure, and “inter-connected” through the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Making” will be infused into all classes.  Design thinking, empathizing to “problem-find” and create solutions, will be used to facilitate project-based learning.
  • Cloud-based software will be infused into projects to prepare students for the business world.
    • Think SaaS, CRM, Adobe Suite, Microsoft Suite, G Suite, ESRI GIS (spatial analysis), Project Management tools, video conferencing, email and digital marketing, budgeting, and others.
  • Edupreneurship” will blend design thinking, prototyping, and business skills for students to create solutions, products, and services to make positive local and global impacts.
    • Think app, website, 3D, laser-cutter, etc. (rapid prototyping).
  • Teachers will be just as important, facilitating and designing learning experiences, implementing the proper technology for the scenario, project, experience, and student support, while continuing to act as a relationship builder, mentor, and coach.