A Look Back — Our Summer Lea(R)n Fellows Reflect on Their Experience

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Laura Linton — Instructional Resource Teacher with Wake County Public School System

This past summer was an amazing experience! As a Lea(R)n Fellow, I joined the team on projects that were centered around prepping for the launch of the next version of LearnPlatform as well as designing training materials for the release. What I loved about being a part of the Lea(R)n team was that I was immersed in the same collaborative environment that we provide for our students in school.

I loved seeing this workplace environment model the workplace environment we prepare our students to enter. Getting to know the Lea(R)n team and witnessing their passion for edtech was wonderfully refreshing, as it solidified the fact that there really are private industries dedicated to helping schools and improving learning outcomes.

Edtech is a vital part of instruction as it creates opportunities for creativity and collaboration, and prepares students to use tools that they will need in the workplace. Lea(R)n has given me a gift in that I now have a greater appreciation for the difficulties that school systems face while trying to manage edtech usage. It is extremely important that edtech usage is tracked and managed so that educators are able to make data-based decisions to guide instruction and purchasing as well as protecting student privacy. Lea(R)n provides educators with this valuable tool that meets these needs.

Working as a Fellow this summer, I had time to interact with my school system’s digital library, as well as the community library, and have discovered many new tools (though I have to say  Google rocked my world — it has more educational applications than any one educator could use in the lifetime of a career). Educators don’t have time to explore and vet edtech tools. Many educators abandon tools due to being overwhelmed by the vetting process and the learning curve. Now that I understand how LearnPlatform works, I can bring the simplicity of the platform to many educators and help open opportunities that may have not otherwise been explored.  

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David Balmer: Instructional Technology Specialist with Wake County Public School System

My work this summer with LearnPlatform centered around product and website evaluation, and some teacher training material designs. Working with my partner-in-crime Laura Linton, we were able to update and design a training presentation for teachers and district leaders that will help explain what LearnPlatform is, how to use it and the benefits of the product over all. I was also able to work some at the LearnPlatform booth at the ISTE Conference in Chicago — that is always such a fun event!

One thing that really meant a lot to me as a public educator working in the Lea(R)n office this summer was the deep passion for education and learning among the team. It’s evident in everything they do, regardless of the position they work in, that it’s all about making edtech better, for both students and teachers.

Using edtech in meaningful, engaging ways with students ultimately leads to them becoming creators of content and not just consumers of it. It’s often the meeting place for building relationships with students. It’s important for teachers to understand that while their students are “digital natives,” that doesn’t mean they know how to use their devices/software for more than just entertainment. For those of us who live and teach in this digital age, helping students understand digital literacy is just as important as the content we specialize in.

My biggest takeaway from working with Lea(R)n was that not all edtech is created equal in terms of data privacy, and that is something that districts need to understand and not take for granted. LearnPlatform allows teachers and districts to explore these tools, grade them, and in some cases see where they stack up in terms of data privacy. Additionally, I was also able to see the collaborative nature of an open office setting and the community that it creates within an edtech startup environment.

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