“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.
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 Classroom: For blended and differentiated and instruction. Create different Docs, Forms, or Slides for assignments, then share assignments with specific students through Classroom.
- Google Classroom: For discussion and collaboration. Pose a question to facilitate an online discussion among your class or groups of students. (Here’s an overview of Google Classroom).
- Google Forms: Use for quizzes or create an “adaptive” form with scaffolded questions and learning resources. Here’s an example created by one of our awesome Reading Specialists (check out this video playlist).
- 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.
- Google Slides: Slides Q & A. Give students a voice to share their questions and insights. Promote collaboration and discussion among your class. Check out this short demo.
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:
Math IXL (limited free for teachers)
TenMarks (limited free for teachers)