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Free Isn't a Feature -- Deploying Ed Tech in the Age of Coronavirus

Reposted from her LinkedIn post of 4 July 2020, Jennifer Carey's thought leadership assesses the value of "free" tools offered to technology leaders during the coronavirus pandemic. Carey, Director of Technology & Innovation at Temple Beth Am Day School in Miami, FL, and member of the ATLIS Board, provides guidance for a community that has been deluged with complications from the numerous offerings of online tools made to teachers and schools. [10-minute read] -- SD

Jennifer Carey
When Coronavirus first impacted US Schools in March, educational institutions scrambled to deploy distance learning with little to no planning or training for faculty. During the rash of school closures, numerous technology companies stepped forward to offer their services for "free."

Initially, many viewed this as a generous, self-sacrificing offer to help schools over the hump of going virtual. Many schools, driven in desperation, quickly took these companies up on their offers, rapidly (often without vetting) deploying numerous new resources to teachers and students. However, the results of this haphazard deployment resulted in numerous problems that at best created confusion through new complexity and at worst, created a privacy and data security nightmare for schools.

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New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions

The celebrations are over, the morning alarm has been turned back on, and educators and students are back in school (hopefully rested and refreshed). Many people use the new year to set resolutions and goals for the year to come. While we often think first of personal goals (run a marathon, read more books), this attitude can be a great impetus to set new professional goals. Those of us who work in schools get to say “Happy New Year” twice each year and the new calendar year can be a great time to set goals for the remaining school year and even the start of the next academic year.

One of the best ways to set new year’s resolutions is to set tangible goals. I like to set goals based on previous challenges. For example, have faculty been struggling with implementing an aspect our LMS or new operating system? Do I struggle to get devices imaged in time for the start of the academic year? Is there a stack of educational books that I’ve been meaning to read? Whatever my challenges have been in the previous year (or years), this is where I look for my goals.

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