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IS THERE AN APP FOR THAT?: U.S. Department of Education Release Ed Tech Guide for Software and Application Developers

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"We need tools designed to help students discover who they are and what they care about, and tools that create portals to a larger world that, in the past, would have remained out of reach for far too many students.”

On April 7, the U.S. Department of Education released a guide for software developers, start-up organizations, and other entrepreneurs who are working to develop digital tools and applications to improve student learning and solve persistent problems in education.

“Technology makes it possible for us to create a different dynamic between a teacher and a classroom full of students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “It can open up limitless new ways to engage kids, support teachers and bring parents into the learning process. We need tools designed to help students discover who they are and what they care about, and tools that create portals to a larger world that, in the past, would have remained out of reach for far too many students.”

The guide presents ten opportunities for technology to transform teaching and learning, including closing opportunity and achievement gaps, improving professional development for educators, designing effective assessments, and increasing family engagement. It notes that creating applications and tools for education is “different” from other fields because they may have to navigate a variety of federal, state, and local policies. It includes basic information about school districts, schools, teachers, and students, and encourages developers to think about how privacy and accessibility laws may impact the applications that they are developing.

“The demand for high-quality educational apps is increasing as communities become more connected, devices become more affordable, and teachers and parents are looking for new ways to use technology to engage students,” said Richard Culatta, director of educational technology for the U.S. Department of Education. “Yet, many existing solutions don’t address the most urgent needs in education. Opportunities abound for software designers and developers to create impactful tools for teachers, school leaders, students, and their families.”

The guide was written with input from educators, developers, and researchers, including Thomas Murray, Alliance for Excellent Education’s state and district digital learning policy and advocacy director.

The Ed Tech Developer’s Guide: A Primer for Software Developers, Startups, and Entrepreneurs is available at https://tech.ed.gov/files/2015/04/Developer-Toolkit.pdf.

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