News

We used these Google tools in our schools and saw tangible results soar

By Larry Pape and John Watson
December 1st, 2016

Research group talks with more than 100 district and school leaders to see if Google tools, technology overall, make a real difference.

google-tools-schools

Authors’ Note: We’re often asked by educators, “what impact do you see with Google technology in schools?” Last year we engaged Evergreen Education Group on a journey around the world to answer that question. During Education on Air on Sunday December 3rd, we will share the findings in Impact Portraits. These case studies demonstrate the success with Google for Education through the lens of teachers, students and administrators. To hear Linda Darling-Hammond lead a discussion on Impact Portraits, register now for Education On Air.

At Evergreen Education Group we’ve studied K-12 digital education for sixteen years. Among the most important developments we have seen is the proliferation of devices in the classroom, whether through bring-your-own-device, district-led one-to-one programs, or other channels. However, relatively little study to date has examined how devices are successfully deployed and what their impact has been.

Getting Real Input from the Ground

We were therefore thrilled that Google was interested in learning the answers to these questions, and in particular that they understood the study required speaking directly with the district and school leaders, curriculum and instruction specialists, and teachers at the forefront of the use of technology in schools.

Over the course of 16 months we spoke with more than 100 district and school leaders in six countries representing more than 880,000 students, analyzed each school’s documents and data, conducted surveys of administrators, teachers and students, and reviewed surveys that the schools conducted. Our goal at every step was to let educators tell their stories, be honest about the challenges and failures, and celebrate the successes in the vein of highlighting these wonderful schools and providing guidance as schools continue down the digital path.

What Does Real Success Look Like?

Early in the project we were asked to complete the sentence “Technology in the classroom equals…what?” Our answer: when considered alone, technology equals nothing. Technology is a tool that can be used well, or it can be used poorly. But when technology was combined with four key factors, it could help the school flourish.

What are these key factors? Planning, Professional learning, Patience, and Support.

Why are these factors necessary? Because supporting the teachers who are using technology and transforming classrooms takes time—time measured in years, not weeks or months.

What does success look like? It takes different forms. But one common factor is that when educators speak of their success, they rarely lead with technology. Instead they talk about personalization, student engagement, and the role of teachers—all of these supported by technology.

“This is about weaving technology into everything we do—especially differentiating instruction and having students collaborating,” said Dr. Mike Pressler, principal of Maine East High School. “Education technology is a tool, not a strategy.”

(Next page: 7 schools weigh in on their measurable successes using Google tools for education)


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