The Learning Accelerator Blog/Catalyzing Collective Change Toward More Equitable Edtech Systems

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Catalyzing Collective Change Toward More Equitable Edtech Systems

by Michael Ham on November 17 2023

Edtech can be a powerful tool in any school system’s efforts for equity when implemented effectively. However, rapidly changing technologies and slow-moving systems have led many schools and systems to report challenges in realizing this potential. So, how can we catalyze collective change toward more equitable edtech systems that promote powerful selection, implementation, and evaluation of educational technology?

This question has driven the partnership between The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Educational Technology (MA DESE OET). What began two years ago with the establishment of a vision for equitable edtech systems (resulting in the EdTech Systems Guide) has evolved into a program designed to accelerate edtech leaders’ ability to drive change within their schools and systems.

Launching the 2023-24 EdTech Peer Learning Cohort

Last year, TLA and MA DESE OET launched an inaugural cohort focused on facilitating specific improvements to the edtech processes of partner schools and systems. In its second year, the cohort has layered on additional programmatic elements to drive toward a more direct purpose: accelerating participants’ abilities to drive change within their edtech systems outside of and after the cohort experience. To this end, the cohort experience will lead participants through a step-by-step, equity-driven improvement process that not only improves their edtech processes and systems but also develops their change management skills.

Last month, we welcomed twelve school districts from across the Commonwealth to the 2023-24 EdTech Peer Learning Cohort:

In this work, we utilize two critical strategies:

Advancing a Vision for Equitable Edtech Systems

Unlocking an edtech leader’s ability to drive change first requires understanding the direction they should be moving. In 2021, TLA and MA DESE OET articulated an actionable vision for equity-driven edtech selection, implementation, and evaluation practices with the development of the EdTech Systems Guide. This document provides cohort members a “north star” to guide change. It is utilized throughout the cohort experience to operationalize that vision, prompting leaders to audit existing edtech systems and practices, determine what improvements need to be made, and measure the progress of their change efforts.

“The EdTech Systems Guide transformed how we think about effective technology use in the classroom.”Sean Ahern, Director of Technology, Wrentham Public Schools

Bridging Sector Knowledge, Sharing Resources, and Building Skill

Vision is critical, but in isolation, it does not move school systems. Leaders need resources, skills, and knowledge to bring ideas to life. Too often, it falls to individual leaders to seek these out in pursuit of their system’s unique goals. This cohort catalyzes change by addressing this challenge in two ways. First, it brings together systems-level leaders around a shared goal and fosters connections between members of the network, which leads to shared knowledge and resources for participants. Second, it connects participants to state-level leaders at MA DESE and national partners at TLA, who provide thought partnership, coaching, and additional perspectives and resources.

“The learning that takes place through collaboration is extremely valuable.” — Colleen Terrill, Director of Innovation and Technology, Mendon-Upton Regional School District

Follow Along

Last year’s cohort participants developed strategies, captured best practices, and produced plug-and-play resources that leaders nationwide can use to make their edtech systems more equitable. Additional resources and strategies can be found here. Over the next several months, this cohort will do the same, engaging in documentation and synthesis of new ideas and practices.

Follow the TLA Blog to stay up-to-date on our learnings and the strategies and resources that emerge from this initiative.

About the Author

Michael Ham is an Associate Partner at the Learning Accelerator, a former instructional leader, and alumnus of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology.