Bill Gates noted three ways education software is empowering teachers in his note on EdTech Trends:
- Newly available data is revolutionizing the way teachers and students collaborate. Gates points to Summit Public Schools where students and teachers collaborate on a Personalized Learning Platform. He notes, “Teachers not only get to see how each student did on the day’s’ assignments; they can use predictive analytical tools and sophisticated visualizations to determine whether students are on track, so they are continually adjusting in real time to target the areas where students are having trouble.”
- Game-changing educational software is rising to the top. Bill calls out Newsela and ThinkCERCA as great examples of middle grade reading and writing software.
- Teachers are using online aggregators in huge numbers to share great ideas with colleagues around the country. As examples, Bill points to EngageNY, a collection of high-quality lesson plans assembled by New York using a federal grant. Teachers have downloaded EngageNY resources 20 million times. Other sites, including BetterLesson and LearnZillion, have developed equally faithful followings.
That’s a great start. But in our paper Improving Conditions & Careers: How Blended Learning Can Improve the Teaching Profession we identified 10 ways that blending face-to-face learning with digital learning is benefiting teaching. To Bill’s list we added:
- More engaged students: personalized learning is motivating hard to reach kids, challenging advanced students, and building persistence.
- Extended learning time: with take home tech, students can learn anywhere anytime.
- Focus on deeper learning: with tools that build basic skills, teachers can spend more time with individual students and small groups on higher order skills.
- More team teaching: blended teaching is a team sport, it reduces teacher isolation and increasing opportunities for collaboration. As Bill pointed out (#3), common standards and new networks make it easier to share tools, resources, and strategies.
- More teacher leadership roles: Public Impact has illustrated how new school models use differentiated staffing models and new roles like multi-classroom leadership to leverage the talents of great teachers.
- New teaching options: teaching from home, specialization, and teacher-led schools are among many new career path options.
- Better professional learning: professional learning networks, personal learning plans with just-in-time resources
On professional learning, we see teachers (like students) benefiting from the same blended, personalized, and competency-based learning. We outlined the new landscape in Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning (and wrote a leadership sequel).
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