Shift. Pivot. Try, fail, try again. Learn from our experiences and repeat. Shift. Pivot. Try, fail, try again. Throughout the past two-plus years, educators have been following this mantra on repeat, yet every time they encounter a new challenge, they shift. So as we wrap up the end of this academic year, we come to another opportunity to reflect on what we’ve learned through our shifts, pivots, failures, and most of all, successes.
The CoSN Ed Tech Next Report for 2022 focuses on those changes we have made and how we can continue to implement those changes in a post-pandemic educational landscape. We ask ourselves questions and think about what changes we’ve made along the way. The Ed Tech Next Report asked several school districts some of the following questions.
- Which elements were successful or problematic, and what made them that way?
- In a future implementation, what was easy, what was difficult and what do we do about those obstacles as we advance?
- What impact did these changes have on students, parents, and teachers?
- Lastly, what benefits and accessibility did these technology and teaching changes have for underserved students?
What are those changes in education over the past two years that brought us to further refine, improve, and enrich the education and instructional experience for all involved and from those changes what will we continue to explore and utilize going forward? For our school, it involved staff, instructors, hardware, and software.
Software tools allowed us to connect with our students over audio and video to let them know there was a voice on the other side that cared about them. We utilized software tools that let us record our lessons so students to go back and review them or watch them if they could not attend the live class meeting. We held office hours through virtual meeting tools to support our students in learning, mental health, and advising.
Our staff worked tirelessly to find ways to support instructors and students to keep teaching and learning. Library staff digitalized materials so that we could deliver resources to all students through a learning management system. IT worked with vendors to extend computer and software contracts so we could provide loaner laptops and software tools to instructors, students, and staff. Staff with knowledge and experience in online teaching strategies and software provided professional development sessions and met in small groups or 1:1. They also developed on-demand videos and training documentation to help instructors transition quickly to a remote teaching environment.
Now that we are back to learning in person, we continue to look at how technology hardware and software can continue to support teaching and learning. Instructors continue to record and share lessons so students can go back and review them; they hold office hours online and rely on a robust learning management system to deliver content so all students can access materials. Instructors and staff are provided with laptop computers instead of desktops so they can teach anywhere and at any time while quickly shifting to remote teaching if necessary. Professional development has evolved from the traditional small group (under-attended) sessions to more asynchronous on-demand videos and job aids.
For our school, it wasn’t just technology; it was the instructors, the support staff, and the opportunities to evolve our pedagogy to meet students where they were. It took many people, many software tools, and a change in professional development sessions to bring everything together. Even then, we still failed, tried again, and learned from our lessons. We pivoted, shifted, and pivoted again.
To hear more about how other schools have shifted, pivoted, and the lessons learned, explore the 2022 CoSN Ed Tech Next Report available here (member resource).
Author Dr. Jenna Linskens, CETL
CoSN Emerging Technologies Committee
Director, Learning & Innovative Technologies, Ithaca College (NY)
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