In this video Betsy explains why using software tools to personalize learning is important. She discusses: using software tools to personalize learning, improving assessments, instruction and intervention points.
- I have been a journalist my whole life, and I loved writing about technology. I think of myself as a science journalist. And science journalists love explaining the world and asking questions. And I loved doing that. And what happened was is that after 25 years of writing about technology, I had some sense of where technology was, and then I had kids. And, I was amazed at how the things that my kids were experiencing in school weren't the same things that I'd experienced 30-ish years ago and sort of wondered about this gap between what technology was doing and what I saw happening in schools.
And I thought a lot about whether there was some way that I could help bridge these two worlds. And it was at a time when educators were starting to ask the same question. So it was a video that came out called Shift Happens, and millions of teachers saw it. Millions of people saw it. And it kind of asked the same question. Like, "Wow, here's our world. "What's going on in the schools?" And so, around 2009, I took a kind of crazy, radical step.
And in the middle of what I hope is the biggest recession of our lifetimes, I decided to quit my job at Forbes and figure out how to kind of play a role in this emerging world of technology and education. And I wound up spending a year volunteering at our local schools as an IT person doing everything from getting under the desks and dusting out the dust bunnies and counting the number of operating systems that a school of 350 kids was using.
It was like six. And realizing that teachers had made a really rational choice to not use technology. It was just too damn hard. It was too hard, and it took too much time for any individual teacher to try to figure out how to make sense of all this crazy technology. And so, I started EdSurge with a couple of friends, and one, two were technologists and one was a former teacher.
And we really had two goals in mind. One was to try to bring together these two communities: this community of people who were starting to build technology and the community of people who potentially would want to use technology. Let's see if we can help them speak the same language. Let's see if we can help them understand each other. But pretty much so from day one, we had a second goal in mind too which is that there was nothing like a Consumer Reports. So now you started to have this technology coming out, let's also see if we can help the people who are going to use the technology ask really deep questions about what the role of this technology is.
Because when you ask those questions, you can be in command. So that's what we did. It is incredibly exciting to talk to educators and to feel that we're helping elevate their voice, that we're helping them take control of their classrooms, that we're helping them ask questions that put them in control of what's going on.
The challenging thing is that we're still really far apart, that there's still a lot of ambiguity, a lot of confusion, a lot of noise, that sometimes we get caught up in political battles around technology when the questions are really fundamental. How do we want to teach our kids? How do we put teachers in a place so that they can do what they really want to do, which is inspire kids, give them courage, tell them that the world can be a great place if they go after it.
And does the technology help support that? That's what we're trying to share out. That's what we believe. If you look at immigration, look at the history of American immigration, in around 1910, 1920 is actually when my grandparents came to the United States, close to 14% of Americans were born someplace else. And then it went down in the 1970s to like almost four or five percent.
Now we're going back up to a historic number. We are asking our kids to figure out so much more about the world at such an early stage. They have to not just figure out what the capitals and the states are, but what's the relevance, what's the importance. How do I ask questions about the world? How do I know what information to trust? How do I know what information not to trust? Our kids need to know a lot. And in fact, there's so much for them to know that what we started to realize is that they kind of start specializing faster.
And so then we asked questions like, "What's your passion? "What do you really care about?" Right? And then, we also want to make education relevant to our kids. So there are a lot of kids in school who just feel like, "Wow, why should I know this? "Why should I care? "This doesn't touch my life." And so, technology becomes a way to really bring context, to bring relevance into the lives of teachers and students.
And so we have to figure out how do we use the collection of tools to help kids find relevance, to help them find their passion, to help them explore further, and to make them feel that they are in command of where they're going. And so, it stands to reason that technology is gonna play a role in their lives. And that means that it needs to play a role in how we're helping prepare them for their lives.
And so, what we see right now is a generation of people who are purposefully trying to say, "Okay, here's how we do some things "in the commercial world. "Alright, what are the needs of the schools? "What are we trying to go to? "What's the problem we're trying to solve? "What's the pain point of a teacher, a student, a school? "And how do we solve that pain point?" And that's a great question to ask. And that's what we're trying to help and foster, is how do we make sure that those are the questions that are driving the technology that gets developed for the schools.