Educators already face insurmountable challenges, and distance learning has compounded those obstacles. From maintaining student engagement and personalizing learning with edtech tools, to managing student interactions in an attempt to keep some kind of normalcy for young scholars, teachers are now being required to add tech support to their already long list of daily responsibilities.

While there is no doubt that engineers and developers have created phenomenal solutions for modern challenges, there is a disconnect between edtech developers and educators that is making an already challenging situation worse.

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Even outside of the extenuating circumstances brought on by the global pandemic, it is common for tech individuals and organizations, who don’t have educational backgrounds, to try to apply their product to the educational space. For example, we all watched as large enterprises and small classrooms alike migrated to Zoom or other video conferencing platforms to maintain face-to-face interactions.

While these solutions were successful for two-way video conferencing, there are challenges unique to classrooms that Zoom and others don’t quite address–like teacher oversight when students are working on small group activities. It’s like trying to put a square peg into a round hole—it just doesn’t fit! When edtech tools are brought into the classroom and do not appropriately align with that classroom’s needs, it can negatively impact the intention to solve true classroom pain points. Developers’ lack of classroom experience and knowledge can lead to the development of technologies that appear to be forward-thinking but are not the right fit for educational use. Instead, developers should approach educators with a more collaborative focus to ensure proposed edtech tools best meet educators’ needs.

About the Author:

John Putnam serves as Head of School Success at Schoolytics, a platform that empowers educators school districts to measure student engagement through Google Classroom usage. In addition to his role at Schoolytics, John is a Senior Consultant with Tech Ed Advisors, where he identifies and connects institutions with technology and operational efficiencies that best align with their programs. Previously, John has served as STEM Training Program Manager at TechTerra Education and Head of Program Operations at Youth Digital. With over 15 years of experience in the education and consulting space, John’s expertise focuses on education technology, training and management.