*Note: This press release refers to Graphite, the former name of this website.
SAN ANTONIO, TX – Common Sense Media, the independent national nonprofit dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, today launched Graphite – a free online resource for teachers and by teachers to discover, share, and use the best apps, games, websites, and digital curricula in their classrooms. It was unveiled to educators and industry leaders at ISTE, the annual conference and exposition of the International Society for Technology in Education.
"Technology can be a powerful tool to help teachers create more engaging and interactive ways of learning. But finding the right resources and figuring out how to use them is much more difficult than it needs to be," said James Steyer, Founder and CEO, Common Sense Media. "By evaluating the learning potential of emerging technology, we are removing barriers for any educator to successfully use edtech to personalize – and even transform – learning."
"There really is no limit to what teachers can do if they have the right resources," said Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, "A decade from now, finding and using the best content and technology will be as natural as opening a book. Graphite is a big step in this direction."
Graphite presents unbiased reviews and ratings of digital products based on level of engagement, how well they help students learn, and support for teachers. It features practical insights on how to use these products from an active community of K-12 teachers who have a range of tech skills and experience.
Across grades and despite continued access issues, teachers say that edtech is essential in their classrooms, even if it's a burden figuring out what to use and how to use it. A recent online survey of teachers and administrators conducted by Harris Interactive for Common Sense Media shows that 89% of teachers agree that using educational technology improves student outcomes, but far fewer are using these tools consistently. Weekly, only 19% of teachers use subject-specific content tools, 31% use reference tools, 24% use teacher tools, and 14% use digital curricula. Among those who are high volume edtech users, over half (53%) are spending an hour or more a week researching which products to use.
"My students love using technology," said Teresa Bodenmiller, a 6th grade teacher and technology coordinator in Milpitas, California. "But finding the right app or website that fits my lesson and my students' needs from all of the options out there is like finding a needle in a haystack. Graphite lets me filter my search for exactly what I need, and gives me the best-rated options with examples of how other teachers have used it. It takes away the guesswork."
Using a rigorous rating system developed by Common Sense Media's team of experts in education, teaching and child development, Graphite evaluates each product across a broad range of core academic subjects: English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies, as well as deeper learning skills like creativity, thinking and reasoning, and collaboration. Intuitive filters allow all learning products to be searched by subject, skills, and grade bands and mapped to Common Core and other standards. Editorial reviews are bolstered by a community of educators who share their personal feedback and field notes about how they use each product and what works best with their students.
"We are demanding a great deal from teachers, and technology can serve as a productive tool to help them meet new expectations," said Deborah Stipek, Former Dean of the Education School at Stanford University. "Through Graphite, teachers can access support and advice from their tech-savvy peers, along with reliable, practical information from an independent partner in Common Sense Media. Ultimately, supporting teachers is a great way to help teachers support their students' learning."
Expanding Common Sense Media's long trusted experience rating and reviewing media to include assessing its learning potential was made possible by the pioneering vision and generous support of Susan Crown and the SCE Foundation. Applying the methodology to the education space was made possible with support from Bill Gates.
To access Graphite™, visit www.commonsense.org/education/.
To see the teachers' survey infographic and all of Common Sense Media's education resources, visit www.commonsense.org/education/.
About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, visit: www.commonsensemedia.org.