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Teachers, Meet Graphite

Topics:   EdTech

Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer explains how Graphite came to be, and welcomes teachers to join

Jim Steyer | June 23, 2013

Editor's Note: This article refers to Graphite, the former name of this website.

When we founded Common Sense Media ten years ago, my colleagues and I set out to help kids and parents thrive with the media and technology in their lives. Since then, we've provided independent media ratings and reviews for almost 20,000 titles, reached millions of families through our own and partners' platforms, engaged over 50,000 schools with our educational resources, and advocated successfully on behalf of kids, their parents, and their teachers.

Today, the media landscape has exploded to include mobile connectivity and digital platforms that are accessible anytime, anywhere. These apps, games, and websites have the potential to transform learning at home and at school. But to realize that promise, kids, parents, and teachers need unbiased and relevant information that helps them find the best of what they’re looking for. That's why I am proud to introduce Graphite, Common Sense Media's new, free service for educators.

Graphite makes it easy for teachers to find the best digital learning tools by presenting them with independent ratings and reviews based on rigorous rubric that evaluates learning potential. The site couples in-depth analysis of edtech products with insights from teachers on how best to use them in a classroom. Reading a review on the site is like listening to advice from a valued mentor with deep experience leveraging technology in the classroom.

Teachers are excited about what edtech tools can do to enhance learning. In a recent online survey conducted for Common Sense Media by Harris Interactive, 89% of teachers agree that educational technology use can improve student outcomes and 96% agree it can increase student engagement in learning. That's almost all of them! It's time for teachers to have access to a trusted resource that helps them identify edtech to suit their needs.

Our survey also found that transformative integration of technology is still elusive. Only 11% of teachers polled are implementing 1:1 or BYOD programs. Even in classrooms where 1:1 programs are in place, only 15% of teachers report using subject-specific content tools. What’s standing in their way? Well, 45% of teachers report lack of time as the biggest challenge to integrating technology in the classroom. And a third of all teachers spend an hour or more each week researching which tools to use. There are enough demands on teachers' time! Graphite's ratings, reviews, curated lists, and teacher feedback all combine to surface the best products quickly.

Since 92% of all teachers say they would like to use more edtech in the classroom than they do now, we are pleased to help them overcome the challenges they say they face in achieving that goal.

Take a look around. Join the community. Graphite is for teachers, by teachers. Tell us which products you use, and add your insights. We at Common Sense Media look forward to supporting teachers everywhere who want to use edtech to ignite student learning in new and exciting ways.