What Is Ed Tech in K–12 Schools?

Educational technology, or ed tech, encompasses a wide variety of applications, software, hardware and infrastructure components — from online quizzes and learning management systems to individual laptops for students and the access points that enable Wi-Fi connectivity.

Interactive panels are a popular tool, and schools have recently implemented learning management systems that allow parents to connect with teachers. Even virtual and augmented reality can be found in some classrooms, says Rachelle Dené Poth, who teaches Spanish and STEAM (science, technology engineering, art and math) classes at Riverview School District. An International Society for Technology in Education–certified educator, Poth is also an attorney and author.

“AR and VR transform how students are learning by immersing them in a different environment, giving them a more hands-on, authentic and meaningful experience,” says Poth. “This enables them to better connect with the content in a way that they understand and can build upon, leveraging the new with the knowledge they already have.”

MORE ON EDTECH: Emerging technologies for modern classrooms steal the spotlight.

What Is the Value of Educational Technology Today?

Even if the district doesn’t have the latest VR tech, educational technology still plays a vital role in the classroom.

“I think ed tech is necessary in the sense that it allows us to do things that, if we were to go back, I could not imagine doing,” says David Chan, director of instructional technology for Evanston Township High School.

Before Chan joined the administrative team 10 years ago, he spent a decade in the classroom — an experience that he believes allows him to do his job better. Having been in the teachers’ position, he can make more informed decisions from the perspective of how technology can impact, benefit or burden the hundreds of teachers in his school.

“First and foremost, the ed tech should support the teaching and learning,” he says.

Certain ed tech, such as quizzes in the middle of class, can collect and analyze valuable data for teachers in real time, Chan adds. Online quizzes provide snapshots of where students are in the moment, allowing teachers to capitalize on crucial learning opportunities rather than reviewing and grading a handwritten quiz later when that opportunity has passed.

“We have always been able to personalize learning for our students pre-technology; it just took more time, and we had fewer resources,” Poth says. “With the different tools available today, especially with artificial intelligence and robust LMS platforms, it helps us have a better workflow and reduces the amount of time it takes to move between tools.”


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