How Is Ed Tech Used in Public Schools?

April 30, 2019 • Shannon Flynn


Educational technology explores how to enhance the learning process with tools that help teachers, students or both. Many people interested in the topic wonder how ed tech is used in public schools. This overview provides some possibilities.

Increasing Graduation Rates

Some teachers who are particularly in tune with their students — or have the luxury of smaller-than-average class sizes — can pick up on characteristics that could indicate a student is at high risk of failing to graduate due to dropping out.

For example, maybe the child was once almost perfect with meeting homework deadlines but has recently been constantly late or not turning work in at all.

In many cases, it’s difficult or impossible for even the most dedicated and observant teachers to spot those warning signs. That’s one of the reasons why Tacoma Public Schools in Tacoma, Washington, utilized cloud analytics tools from Microsoft.

Those resources can detect characteristics that may mean teachers need to intervene before students leave school without their diploma. As such, the graduation rate increased to 82.6% from 55% and helped school representatives notice signs of disengagement.

Giving Teachers More Ways to Appeal to Students

One of the advantages of ed tech is that it empowers educators to explore different ways of engaging with students and helping them learn. For example, an exceptionally energetic child may quickly get bored watching a teacher stand at the front of a classroom to give a lecture, but they could become more immersed if the same or similar kind of content came through a virtual reality (VR) application.

Sometimes, technology like VR is out of reach for public schools with tight budgets. Oculus Rift is one VR brand that aims to reduce that barrier. It partnered with Seattle Public Schools to develop and pilot a VR learning program. Oculus Rift also connected with a tech foundation in the Seattle area and will work with that organization to gather input on how best to train teachers to work with VR in their classrooms.

Such programs are crucial because they give educators leverage when they want to make appeals to superiors about bringing new technology into the classroom. VR technology for classroom use is still a relatively new idea, but pilot programs could show reluctant school administrative authorities that investment is worthwhile.

At Florida’s St. Lucie Public Schools, Michael Carbenia, the director of career and technical education, has been instrumental in bringing VR and augmented reality (AR) to his students to expose them to more career opportunities. He says those methods of teaching help students feel more energized, plus help the school district save money by letting them do more activities in single sessions.

Ed Tech Helps Students and Teachers Collaborate

Another reason public schools depend on ed tech is that it facilitates the spread of information. When using traditional pen and paper methods, messages can get lost or never delivered — or people may forget to respond to them or take other desirable actions. It’s even easier if teachers and students have a single platform they can use to collaborate.

In Canada, the team at Edmonton Public Schools decided that G Suite was the tool for them, and they ran a pilot program through G Suite for Education. Before that, students could not use a school’s online tools without VPN software, and teachers wrestled with operating system issues. All those things made it prohibitively hard for collaboration to happen.

Thanks to G Suite, students and teachers can work together on projects, and kids can submit their assignments electronically. The tools within G Suite also cater to the classroom, such as by letting students work on math problems with the spreadsheet tools in Google Sheets, then sending the finished assignments to their educators.

Giving Teachers Professional Development Resources

When people ask “How is ed tech used in public schools?” they often only think of tools students engage with during class.

However, as Nevada’s Clark County School District showed, it also benefits teachers who needed to increase their competency of some aspects of the curriculum. Educators needed to get up to speed on the Common Core State Standards and expressed wanting to have the necessary resources available.

The school district kicked off a program called Bringing Learning and Standards Together (BLAST) and gave teachers the option to log in and do modules about the relevant material anywhere at any time. The advantages they enjoy are passed onto students.

Bringing Public Education to New Heights

These examples show how the possibilities for using ed tech in public schools are nearly limitless depending on organizational goals or objectives of individual classrooms.

The tech is now widely available, and it’s up to educators and administrators to figure out how to best utilize it based on their budget and plans.