You know what they say about opinions. But when it comes from researchers who’ve spent years in the K-12 field researching everything from traditional instructional design to cutting-edge, technology-enabled modalities in schools, districts, and programs across the country, those opinions may be worth a listen.
Applying innovation theory lenses to the trends, patterns, news bites, and field data gathered over the course of 2022, here are our education researchers’ favorite blogs that either they or their colleagues have written this year, and the reasoning behind their picks.
Do you have a favorite blog or report from this year? Let us know in the comments!
Robert Markle, research project manager, education
Reason: Rob says, “It illuminates a major reason why promising educational strategies often fail to get off the ground. Tightly-controlled experiments like RCTs are great for demonstrating whether or not a particular innovation can work, but once an evidence-based practice has been established, schools need ‘practice-based evidence’ gathered from real-world implementations to understand how they can implement that innovation amidst the multi-faceted challenges that often arise in educational settings.”
Blog teaser: By their very nature, innovations are new, untested ideas emerging as a result of existing solutions not meeting the needs of a specific group of individuals. Over the last decade, schools across the nation have begun to test various models of blended learning and procuring edtech tools to offer students some element of control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning. Yet, even amidst the increased adoption of blended learning during COVID, school systems continue to struggle to scale the potential game-changing benefits of technology in the classroom. As someone who was once deeply involved in edtech procurement decisions for a school district, I know that this stubborn challenge isn’t because school leaders aren’t committed to finding the best solutions to meet their students’ needs.
Thomas Arnett, senior research fellow, education
Reason: Tom says, “This post articulates some of my favorite insights on how online learning can be the technology enabler of new models of education. It shows online learning as more than just an enhancement to conventional instructional practices.”
Blog teaser: When people think about digital learning, the first things that come to mind are likely the common applications they’ve experienced. For example, you might think of remote learning through class meetings that happen over a video call. Examples like this frame digital learning in terms of specific resources and their functions within our current education system. But when we think about the big-picture, long-term impact digital learning will have on society, we need to think more broadly than its role in our current schools and classrooms.
Julia Freeland Fisher, director of education research
Reason: Julia says, “This post highlights the immense potential for schools to better understand their students’ experiences, interests, and needs based on relationship data, rather than just academic data. We highlight practical tools that are starting to crop up that make it feasible for schools to collect a whole new form of data to help strategically leverage student networks and address the social side of opportunity gaps.”
Blog teaser: Legacy education data systems rarely contain much in the way of relationship data. That’s not to say schools fly entirely blind. Schools can keep track of which students are paired with what teachers. They can assign advisors or mentors to students who are struggling. They can administer culture and belonging surveys that measure how students and staff experience and perceive their community. But rosters and climate surveys only get you so far. They lean institution-centric, rather than student-centric. In other words, they rarely reveal the actual relationships and networks at play in students’ lives. Moreover, they tell schools nothing about students’ connections with family, friends, coaches, neighbors, and the like that make up a young person’s actual network, and often contain valuable assets that schools could tap into. How might schools go about discovering who students know?