Because educational technology (“EdTech”) is a 19 billion dollar industry (annually!), faculty sometimes find themselves using tech tools and platforms that have been sold to them or to their institutions more because of a fancy sales pitch, a monopolized market, or a slick design funded by venture capital as opposed to any evidence that these tools and platforms will help students learn or help faculty teach more effectively. Well-designed commercial platforms and tools may be welcomed by teachers and by learners, but it is important that teachers and learners are at the table when decisions about tech adoptions are being made. Particularly during times of crisis, we should reject technologies that are marketed as quick fixes, and instead focus on learning goals, and iterate towards long-term sustainable infrastructure that supports the institution’s pedagogical values.
As you make decisions about what technologies to adopt in a time of crisis, ask: “What is the key learning-related goal of this particular technology?” Try as much as possible to adopt technologies that align with that key goal.
- Is someone making a profit off this technology, and if so, does that company or organization have a mission that aligns with yours?
- If a technology is “free,” please consider: is it free forever, or just for a trial period? Will it upsell users on needed features? Is it open source? Who pays to maintain/service it? Are students paying for the technology with their data, and if so, have they consented to that?
- What independent evidence is there that this technology will help students learn or in other ways contribute to the mission of your institution?
- If this technology is designed to enhance pedagogy, are faculty in agreement that the resources needed to install and maintain the technology would be a good use of college funding?
- What university governance protocols should be followed as you make a decision about adopting this technology? Do these protocols involve all affected stakeholders?
Examples & Resources
- Rethinking the benefits of scale in education technology.
- Designing learning ecosystems around pedagogy (rather than vice versa): one study.
- A pre-COVID plea to lead with pedagogy.
- This older article has a helpful conclusion that articulates simply some of the differences between leading with tech verses leading with pedagogy.
- The #FeesMustFall disruptions in South Africa yielded a rapid push to hybrid and blended learning, with less-than-optimal results.
- The story of a school administrator advocating for student data privacy.
- If you have other examples or resources related to the role of pedagogy in technology purchasing, planning, or use, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.