EdTech Decision-Making in a World of Uncertainty

A Conversation with Elliott Levine of Hewlett Packard

It’s not every day that you get the chance to sit down and speak with one of EdTech Digest’s top 100 Global Influencers in edtech, but that’s exactly what happened when I recently had the pleasure to interview Elliott Levine. Having spent the past 25 years networking in education, including in his current role as Director of Education for Hewlett Packard, Elliott has worked to figure out innovative ways to look at technology.

He will be presenting at FETC 2019 in a session titled: Unstandardized Answers: Embracing Innovation in an Era of Uncertainty. After reading the description of his upcoming session, I couldn’t help but ask, “Can we be okay in a world or an era of uncertainty with edtech?”

According to Elliott, when uncertainty is discussed in edtech, the word “change” inevitably emerges as a common theme. He says, “When we look at school administrators, everybody talks about change; they reference articles about change. They post graphics about the need to change. But we are so risk-averse to change in school systems. It’s not just at the classroom level. There is risk aversion all the way up to superintendents and school boards.”

Part of the uncertainty lies in the fact that it’s difficult to grasp the ideas and concepts without thinking about them in the broadest sense possible. An important element to Elliott’s work involves digesting the equivalent of a long, drawn-out novel of information and somehow filtering it down to a concentrated thirty seconds of detail.

As a result of uncertainty, school districts often make the mistake of buying before thinking things through. They write purchase orders to buy a whole bunch of devices because it’s simply the easiest thing to do. It’s the wrong approach, according to Elliott, “You’ve got to do your homework and know about all things that need to change to really take advantage of the purchase. It’s where the hardest work occurs.” The “why” and the “how” need to be fully realized before the buying takes place.

It’s important to think about who is steering the ship when it comes to widespread edtech decisions. Elliott maintains it should not be the technology companies, the academic publishers or even the superintendents. Instead, he states, “The most successful-driven initiatives are community-driven initiatives.” It becomes a recipe for success when consensus is built with more significant numbers of individuals acting as a team.

Through it all, Elliot believes the old adage holds true to form: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go as a group.” Listen here. 

About Elliot Levine

Elliott Levine is the Director of Education for Hewlett Packard. Previously, he was a former K-12 district administrator and professor, and a past columnist for the American School Boards Journal. He serves on the advisory board for WNET, the largest public television station in the U.S., a board member for edtech company PAPERbasket (named Best New Product of 2018) and an advisor for 3D Africa, supporting educational opportunities for young women in Africa.

In 2018, EdTech Digest named him one of the Top 100 Global Influencers in edtech. Follow Elliott Levine on Twitter @edtech_elliott

Elliott Levine will be presenting at the following session at FETC 2019:

C013 | Unstandardized Answers: Embracing Innovation in an Era of Uncertainty

  • Room: SOUTH 320BC
  • Session Number: C013

Tuesday, January 29, 2019: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM