Looking Past the Bells and Whistles of EdTech
Identifying the pedagogy in education technology choices
by Dr. Rod Berger
Andrea Chavez-Kopp serves as the Assistant Director for Educational and Formation Programs for the National Catholic Educational Association. She will be presenting at the upcoming FETC Conference at the end of January in a session titled The Tool Is Irrelevant: Metacognition for Selecting Classroom EdTech Tools. It was nice to sit down and talk with her about the process of making sound choices in education technology.
Andrea has the unique ability to look past the “bells and whistles” of the latest app and thoughtfully match the pedagogy to the edtech. When it comes to becoming better purchasers and making more intelligent edtech decisions, she sees a mixed bag. “When you have good systemic things in place, there is education already there, and purchases can be made in a smart way. But we all can fall victim to ‘Well, that’s really cool. I want to use it in my classroom.’ It’s as if the cool factor is first and then it’s, ‘Let me see how I can fit it in.’” As Andrea emphasizes, “It’s about the metacognition behind selecting digital tools.”
Over the past several years Andrea has been involved in designing digital PD and, in the process, she has gained insights into the real challenges facing classroom instruction as it relates to technology. Kids are very intuitive with technology, but Andrea recognizes an important detail, “Students have pockets of knowledge with technology. They can do some really cool flashy things. But they can’t do some basic things like typing or formatting a word document, things that older adults have the expertise in.” Andrea sees a marriage of the two worlds of experience as a promising approach to technology in schools. As she states, “It’s very alluring to think, well, the kids know how to do it. They know how to do some of it, but they know just enough to be dangerous, as do adults.”
Andrea warns against getting too caught up in the often-overused phrase “We’re preparing kids for careers that don’t exist yet.” There’s a propensity to follow the innovator’s mindset of doing something before the data has arrived and the result can have a direct impact on kids. As Andrea points out, “If you implement something and it doesn’t work, then that kid has lost a year.”
Connections made with people in the education community are invaluable assets according to Andrea. Conferences like the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) and others can provide a wealth of opportunity for making contacts. It goes a step further when the mentoring component is added. As Andrea shares, “I would not be where I am without people along the way taking an interest. Those people have made all the difference in my career, whether they thought they were changing my life or not, they did.”
About Andrea Chavez-Kopp
Andrea Chavez-Kopp serves as the Assistant Director for Educational and Formation Programs for the National Catholic Educational Association. She has 15 years of classroom experience as both a middle and high school teacher. She has taught social studies, English and been a STEM co-teacher. For the last 3 years, she has been designing digital PD offerings nationally for Catholic schools.
She has served in several leadership capacities within the schools and parishes she has worked including Department Chair, iPad coordinator, GAFE administrator, Curriculum Team Leader, Director of Youth Ministry and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator. She holds a B.A. in History and Secondary Education as well as an M.Ed in Instructional Leadership.
Follow Andrea on Twitter @adkopp76
Andrea Chavez-Kopp will be presenting at the following session at FETC 2019:
- Room: NORTH 320H
- Session Number: C328
Wednesday, January 30, 2019: 2:00 PM – 2:40 PM