Giving Compass' Take:

• As some school districts struggle with technology, others were able to mitigate challenges and provide support for students and educators. 

• How will tech influence the success of schools reopening? 

• Read why caution is essential in reopening schools. 

Too little technology makes remote instruction nigh impossible. Too much makes it a hassle. Such was the two-sided dilemma that many educators experienced in the spring. Computers, hotspots and other devices were in short supply. At the same time, the number of digital tools used across schools and districts seemingly multiplied.

Across Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District in Texas, teachers used a “hodgepodge” of learning management systems—Canvas, Google Classroom, Google Sites, Seesaw, Schoology and other tools—recalls Khadijah Gordy, the district’s digital learning specialist. That proved problematic for parents, she adds: “It was overwhelming when your kids’ teachers are all using something different.”

Over in Massachusetts, Becky Csizmesia, who was teaching music to elementary students at Silvia Elementary when schools closed, had a similar problem with communication apps. “All the teachers were using something different. ClassDojo, Remind, ClassTag… There was no consistency.”

For a growing number of districts, going back to school means a return to remote instruction. And for district technology coaches, whose job it is to help teachers use digital tools effectively, such experiences from the spring are top of mind as they prepare during these last few weeks before school starts.

One of their top goals: getting a better handle on all the apps and software used across the district.

“Our priority this summer, as we go into the fall, was going with one learning management system,” says Gordy. The district, which serves about 26,000 students, has decided on Canvas. It will also publish a list of other online tools that have been approved for use.

“We’re very cautious of how many edtech apps we license, because we need to vet them [and] review their terms of service to make sure they follow our privacy policies,” she says. “It’s extremely discouraged to have teachers just use any tech tool they find.” So far, Gordy adds, there are about 30 apps that have passed muster.

Read the full article about technology in school districts by Tony Wan at EdSurge.