Host of the “Educator Pineapple Podcast,” Juliana Finegan talks about the rise of personal devices and shares highlights of her conversation with Jean-Claude Brizard, where the pair discussed what is needed to foster learning and equity around digital transformation. Read part one of their conversation here.
During the pandemic, as schools rushed to accommodate virtual and hybrid learning, Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO of Digital Promise, said the need for cross-collaboration between districts, educators, teachers, and families became paramount, especially as students became accustomed to taking their 1:1 devices home. Policy, structures, and supports needed to be quickly put in place to accommodate all stakeholders.
“The school principal needs to understand what teachers need to really provide the structures within that school to facilitate some of the work,” said Brizard. “When you think about the coherence that needs to exist among different edtech projects, this idea of interoperability is something I know schools care about.”
For example, Brizard suggests that at the district level, the chief technology officer should “sit side-by-side” with the chief academic officer to develop integration strategies, crisscrossing elements such as tech support, curriculum, and whole-child education to enhance the teaching and learning process.
Technology tools can only be successful if there is an integration plan at the system level, Brizard said.
“We think about how Central Office staff has taken on the job to create coherence and to be of service to the protagonist in the classroom, the teacher in the classroom, as they support young people,” adds Brizard. “There has to be a level of understanding around regulations and system support and to really understand how you design curricula. It is the centerpiece of the work: curriculum, pedagogy, and how technology is weaved in.”
Deploying technology without an integration plan can have major consequences. Brizard said he has seen districts purchase technology that never gets used because there isn’t a plan, or buy cheap devices that don’t serve the needs of teachers or students.
“What happens is that over the years, [low-end devices] can’t provide the kind of powerful computing needed for powerful learning,” Brizard said. “The places that have done the best job have included the educator’s voice, the practitioner’s voice … the folks that actually have to use the [technology] need to be in the room so they can inform the policy,” and where to direct technology investments.
And that’s a critical piece as a litany of edtech products show up in schools; Brizard said there’s a need to fundamentally shift district policies to focus on both protecting young people and fostering innovation.
To ensure that all students benefit from advances of 1:1 computing, Brizard said districts should focus on creating policies and designing curriculum that expands equitable access.
“We have to think about equity as an essential piece of this, too; making sure we’re designing for all kids, including kids who are neurodiverse, who have disabilities, etc., and making sure we have full accessibility to support every student in the classroom,” Brizard said.
At Digital Promise, the organization is focused on building equity around transformation, including informing technology companies and superintendents how to leverage 1:1 devices in the classroom. The organization has created the Learner Variability Navigator, a series of research-based concepts and strategies designed to help educators “embrace students’ struggles and strengths,” while connecting practice to uplifting the whole learner.
“The integration of skills in everyday lessons, in every subject area, in our schools … that is really what propels a young person to adapt to and understand and be able to access the best skills moving forward.”
Listen to the full episode of the “Educator Pineapple Podcast” featuring Jean-Claude Brizard, here.
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