A report from the National Association of State Boards of Education has highlighted the need for greater aptitude for technology in America’s teachers. While it has been widely acknowledged that teachers need improved tech skills for quite some time now, the report emphasizes that improving teachers’ use of educational technology needs to be a leading priority, and suggests steps such as ensuring clinical experience and access to professional development.
Unmentioned in this is the technology itself, and whether teachers should be adapting to new technology or if technology should be built with limited technical aptitude in mind. Which is the functional purpose of edtech: to provide the best tools possible that can only be used by a few teachers, or to build user-friendly tools for every teacher everywhere?
This is not a new debate in the technology industry—innovators have long walked the careful line between user friendliness and complexity. But as we have written before, education technology is a particularly tricky space. Everyone—administrators, teachers, and students—is impacted by commitments made to technology by schools, and there simply are not enough resources to waste on bad investments. Schools don’t have the money to invest in technology that is too simple to be useful or too complex to be used. Technology can be a very powerful tool to help educators, but as this report suggests, teachers aren’t utilizing it to its full extent.
Education tech companies need to keep teacher capabilities in mind as they develop new innovations for the classroom. Striking the right balance between user friendliness and function is already important, and will evidently become increasingly crucial as more attention is turned toward teachers and technology.