As part of the New York City Department of Education’s Short Cycle Evaluation Challenge (SCEC), funded by the Fund for Public Schools, our iZone project is in the second year of evaluating some 12 new edtech products in public schools. CCT has two main goals for the iZone evaluation.
• First, we want to help schools and edtech developers determine a technology's appropriateness for addressing specific educational objectives and problems of practice, as determined by each school. To that end, our evaluation methods focus primarily on collecting data about how teachers and students use the technology, given their specific school environments—availabilty of hardware, strength of the school's Wi-Fi network, or support from the school administration for implementing new technology. We are interested in understanding a product's ease of uptake, given teacher experience and the nature of the educational objectives.
• Second, we wish to support the NYC DOE's interest in providing teachers and administrators with tools to make good decisions about technology procurement, given a school's particular needs. To achieve that goal, we are drafting and pilot-testing several instruments that teachers can use to help with future decisions about buying and using edtech.
Our evaluation findings will help the schools that are participating in the SCEC to determine whether the edtech products they've pilot-tested will be useful for addressing their needs. Further, we expect that the tools we develop will help schools in New York City and elsewhere make evidence-based decisions about whether to purchase and use edtech products.