Educational technology offers a new lens through which to examine educational practices. Historically the teacher was both knowledge and pedagogical authority. Likewise, teacher reporting was the largest factor in measuring students performance. By adding technology to classrooms, subjective measures of performance can enjoy more quantitative measures. {Related Post: What your TPACK is missing}

EdTech Brings Transparency

Classrooms or schools which resist #edtech usually have one of two reasons. Either they are already doing well on current transparent measures {think standardized test scores} or they are concerned about making things more transparent.

In #edtech, we bring the transparency. It could be scary to know that transparency is coming; especially in an industry like education where a person could previously control the public perception of what is happening in a classroom.

Some people may fear change, but many people avoid transparency initially. Transparency may or may not lead to change, but it almost always illuminates an opportunity for change.

Transparency in Data

Educators generate qualitative data; they describe their understanding of the student’s knowledge. While teachers gather grades, those grades often generated from them, dropped or included by them, and represent either many of a few grade opportunities. Grades are subjective. Teachers include commentary with report cards often which is a more obvious subjective evaluation of a student.

Educational technologies offer a chance to gather an evenly distributed measure of intentionally unbiased data. Data can inform the teachers about data points missed in classroom assignments or activities, to further direct their instruction. Data can be used to guide opportunities for intervention earlier than relying on teacher recommendation alone.

While the initial adjustment to different data points may be difficult, the information on the other side of that transition is more reliable.

Transparent Conversations

Core beliefs about teaching are revealed in conversations around educational technology. Conversations reveal assumed beliefs and start conversations which some educators last had in college before starting teaching; and some educators have never had.

Hardware questions: Who deserves access to (Internet-enabled) devices? What type of device best fits the needs of your classrooms? …of your students? Are students primarily producing or consuming? Are those devices for the student to keep as a textbook? Is Internet provided at home?

Software questions: How many students should have access to a program? Does access continue through the summer? Who monitors the data collected? What is done with the data collected? Is the purpose of these softwares to produce or consume? Are there some groups which only are consuming and never produce?

Resource questions: Do all students require the same content? Which groups receive different content? Who makes that determination? How will the content, subscriptions, resources usage be evaluated? How many resources are you dividing student usage between?

Topics which can spark conversation: expectations for staff/student usage/behavior/attitudes, purchasing priorities, assumed versus documented usage/behavior/attitudes, training,  skill diagnosis/gaps with staff/students.

Any conversation which includes all stakeholders at school is good, but not always practical. The Principal and the principles need to be present to expect a full conversation takes place. The above questions usually cut through assumed solidarity early on in the conversation. After that initial questioning starts, the conversations become real and the stakeholders often start talking to each other about topics they had not discussed, but had assumed they agreed upon.

Transparently Failing Forward

The single best way to lead educators to change is to publicly fail.


In fact, to teach people to productively fail you have to confidently fail and then transparently think aloud about your failure. Then you must try again more intelligently so as to do better. There is little room for an ego in this modelling situation.

How can you encourage those following your lead to succeed, but offer a safety net for when they do not? Create structures which expect failures at the stress points; the stress points are predictable and require assurance. You should be able to create documentation to get the educator back on track or in contact with assistance.

The second best way to lead educators to change is to allow them to fail, a little, and then get them back on track quickly.

Once educators have observed someone else fail forward and then fail forward themselves they are less risk-averse and more likely to be open to transparency. #edtech is uniquely qualified to provide a fast-track training in failing forward.