The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing school leaders, parents and caretakers to do what just a few weeks ago was unimaginable: deploy technology-driven distance education to tens of millions of students, many of whom lack the hardware, bandwidth, software, social and other supports necessary to effectively learn full-time from home.
Nobody will claim we were ready for this. Technology is already hard enough to implement in schools, even when students all have access to devices, bandwidth, and well-trained and supported educators. The Jefferson Education Exchange, which one of us leads, has been embarking on a multi-year effort to discover which edtech products appear to perform best in various environments.
Unfortunately, we all need information now, and any information is better than none.
Selecting and implementing technology to support students now is going to be as difficult as it is important. The time to carefully plan and design for the effective use of technology in remote learning is lost luxury. School officials and parents, together, now have to implement, learn, and improve distance education as fast as possible. But this means selecting products to implement on short notice with very limited information about what works and under what circumstances.