Nov 17 2017

Researchers Look to Pre–K Demographics to Support Tech Trends

The focus of developing today’s tech trends is turning to the youngest of learners.

Technology is a mainstay in the classroom. Thanks to the use of education tech, students of all abilities are able to access equal learning experiences and teachers can spend their time driving student engagement instead of grading papers.

This firm footing in K–12 education has allowed ed tech companies to shift their focus to groups that haven’t been targeted in digital tool development, such as today’s diverse preschool population.

EdSurge reports that ed tech researchers from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropic organization founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, are particularly interested in collecting data on diverse groups of preschoolers to determine what ed tech companies should focus on in the future.

In addition to shaping the ed tech market, this research is helping to drive the plans that school leaders are developing concerning digital tools and transformation.

“If you assume the national demographic patterns make sense for your community, you could well end up designing something that doesn’t make any sense for your community,” says Gina Adams, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, in the EdSurge article.

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Targeted Technology Gives All Students Access to Opportunities

Research from the Urban Institute shows that minority groups in preschools have become virtually equal to those in the traditional majority. Among those minority students are a large number of English language learners.

The targeted research by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Urban Institute has been honing in on how schools and educators can deliver effective education to this growing population as they get older.

“As new populations surface, the market is going to correct itself,” says Tory Patterson, the managing director and co-founder of education investment firm Owl Ventures, in the EdSurge article.

The tech market has already made some strides in efforts to deliver equal education opportunities to students who are balancing learning a new language on top of the other K–12 classroom challenges.

One example is Microsoft’s revamped OneNote. The tech giant added text-to-speech and speech-to-text learning tools to the digital note-taking program initially as a way to help students with learning disabilities use the same platform as their peers.

However, teachers at Klein Forest High School in Houston found that the OneNote learning tools can be quite helpful to their ELL students. Microsoft executives are pleased that OneNote’s expanded access is helping unexpected diverse populations of students succeed.

“From Microsoft’s point of view, our mission statement of ‘empower every student’ is something we take as truth and is our own North Star,” says VP of U.S. Education Margo Day in an EdTech article. “The operative word here is ‘every.’ Every student on the planet can help create the world of tomorrow.

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