Two years of EdTech!

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2 years full time at OpenEd have passed and I thought I’d write a bit about what it’s like to go from being a public school teacher to working in education technology, or EdTech as it’s commonly called! It’s been three years since I was a classroom teacher – so if I did go back, it would probably take a year to re-learn everything I was doing before!

I had been consulting for OpenEd for over a year before I came on full time, writing math assessment questions and curating resources. I had visited the office a few times so sort of knew what the office environment was like, and was definitely tempted by the idea of going for a run on my lunch break in beautiful Los Gatos!

The financial implications were perhaps less known than I would have liked- salary adjustment pretty well made up for the 3x different in rent, but what we didn’t take into account was the higher price of food and healthcare. On the other hand, even after we moved offices to 8 miles away I can still ride my bike to work and even in bad traffic it’s usually no more than a 20-30 minute drive to the office.

The hardest part to adjust to has been the lack of seasons of work. In teaching it’s easier to push through certain rough patches because Christmas Break is coming, or Spring break, etc. Of course summer was always great – even when teaching summer school, it was still better than a full day’s work. Now when I take a vacation it usually just means I have more work and less time to do things in and as a manager there are always issues that I’m thinking about to squash before they pop up as problems.

The advantage to the office lifestyle though is being able to go on a coffee walk with colleagues, talk to adults (sometimes a negative) instead of teenagers all day, etc.  In addition, we’re not as susceptible to faculty meetings, fire drills, no dances to supervise, etc. Distractions happen but can be managed by simply asking the person to not bother you or moving to a corner of the office away from other people.

The absolute best parts of working in edtech has been the learning! I started making a list of all of the things I’ve learned over the past two years and aside from being pretty boring (Github, some actual programming, technical standards, all about the Common Core and other taxonomies, etc). To not just be user of edtech but a creator and facilitator of it has been an amazing thing. It’s still cool to get emails from people that work for the likes of Google, Microsoft, Canvas, etc .I have always been pretty adept at computers, but came to this job and felt like I had to start all over in my knowledge!

This job at OpenEd/ACT truly engages me on a level of content, technical, and leadership development. When I started, I was simply the primary Math Curator and led the rest of the Curation team – those who are actively curating the videos, games, assessments and interactive resources on OpenEd.com so students can use them more easily. Now I do more leadership, less math, and more technical. I write dataclips in SQL to accurately make reports of the resources that OpenEd has for various partners and internal goal-setting. I use Geckoboard to track our goals and hold the team (and myself) accountable. I know Github well enough to be able to make my own branches of OpenSALT and merge it back into the development branch when warranted. This year I’ve been privileged to be a part of the ACT Leadership Cohort, even though it means time away from my beautiful family.

When OpenEd was purchased by ACT last year, at first I was nervous. Being purchased by a summative test company seemed like the worst thing possible for a student-centric educator like myself. Yet as I have gotten to know the people and company of ACT, I’ve been very impressed. They are professionals, driven towards creating a placement test that will help students know what they are capable of, and the Work Keys program has lofty goals as well to help give employees and employers knowledge about skills and capabilities. I am greatly excited about work I can make public soon around taxonomies of academic skills.

I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of ACT and excited for what OpenEd continues to do and expand. I have never met someone from another company who wasn’t in this business to make things better for students and teachers – even Pearson!

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