- A group of New York City high school students are protesting an online personalized learning curriculum, Summit Learning, by writing a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, EdSurge reports.
- Summit Learning, which was built with the help of Facebook engineers and is backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, launched in Summit Public Schools' network of 11 charter schools in California and Washington with the goal of giving schools and educators tools to personalize learning. It has since spread to some 380 schools nationwide.
- Students at Brooklyn's Secondary School for Journalism say Summit Learning lacks rigor, is disorganized and poorly implemented, and teachers aren't properly trained in using it — and some also have concerns about the data it collects and shares, leading the group to demand a response from Facebook's leaders.
Ed tech and personalized learning technologies may each be a big deal in the classroom, but the way these programs are implemented and used is arguably just as important as, if not more important than, having the software in the first place.
In addition to simply acquiring these technologies, schools and districts need to ensure that the money invested on them is worthwhile. Rather than spending on digital tools that will replicate the status quo or add bells and whistles to classrooms, school leaders should look to check that these programs actually transform the learning experience.
One way to do this could be to use evaluations like the SAMR model, which prompts educators to examine various facets of ed tech and its impact on student learning, while another option could be to look at previous research and studies. Additionally, holding discussions with other educators or members of the school community — including students and parents — can help identify what's missing from the current school structure, what could be improved, and how stakeholders envision those changes taking place.
Another step in implementing useful ed tech involves properly training teachers. For these tools to have the greatest classroom impact, it's up to educators to supervise students and teach them to use it responsively and appropriately. And for teachers to do that successfully, they need their own training and guidance in how to use it and integrate it into their curriculum.
There's often a learning curve in getting up to speed with any new systems and structures, and for that process to go smoothly, it's a worthwhile investment for administrators to set aside time for professional development opportunities.