Innovation vs. Technology Fads

This is the fifth blog in a series where we will be exploring the topic of innovation and its impact on digital curriculum. 

Mike Schmoker recently authored a column, Why I’m Against Innovation in Education, and he brings up some interesting points and shares a unique perspective on technology in education. He states, “education policy makers are too driven by fads – at the expense of tried and true approaches.”

He goes on to say that he’s not against “small-scale educational experimentation, where new methods are tested, refined, and proved before they are widely implemented. But I'm against our inordinate obsession with what's new at the expense of what works—with exceedingly superior (if much older) evidence-based practices.” 

This point is driven home when he touches on the fact that the most promising, evidence-based practices are the least implemented and instead districts are using innovations like flipped classroom, teaching with mobile apps, gamification or essentially the flavor of the month in educational technology, despite the fact that these practices are not considered to be the most effective. 

We agree with his assessment of educational fads. As we mentioned before in this blog, clearly there are countless ways to describe innovation, but at Apex Learning, we don’t believe innovation is a “novelty” or simply one new product or idea. To us, innovation is a 20-year commitment to supporting the changing environment in education and creating solutions that remain responsive and reflective to those evolving needs. Innovation goes beyond flashy technology. Our focus is to ensure students are successful and are truly mastering instructional content. Our digital curriculum is built on evidence-based research and practices designed to ensure every student learns. 

It was through listening to and working with the educators using our digital curriculum that we developed deep knowledge and expertise in what works for the students we serve in these programs. Whether it’s the generally self-motivated, high-achieving students taking our AP courses or the English language learners, below proficient readers, and struggling students using our digital curriculum, we have focused on developing curriculum that works for all students. 

We also recognize the critical role that teachers play in a successful program and supporting teachers with professional development and data that provide them with insight into how students are doing is as important to us as providing what works for students. 

At the end of the day it’s about results. If students aren’t demonstrating learning and a district isn’t achieving the outcomes they expect, they won’t continue to work with us. We partner with our clients every step of the way to ensure their implementations are successful and they achieve their goals. 

We’ve learned a great deal over the last 20 years about the challenges high schools face meeting the diverse needs of students not ready for the rigor of high school. Our work in this area has led us to our newest area of innovation: helping middle school students master grade-level content so they are prepared for high school. In everything we do, we are committed to innovation that delivers what works for students, insights for teachers, and results for our district partners.

We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this blog series or any of our blog topics. Reach out to us directly with any questions, ideas at joanne.frank@apexlearning.com.

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