Editor's Note: This article refers to Graphite, the former name of this website.
Since the beta launch of Graphite at ISTE, we've been working through improvements, changes, and new features - all thanks to your input! Hear from our CEO and Founder, Jim Steyer, about the updates that lead us to today's official launch.
It’s been an exciting time for our team in the few weeks since Graphite was debuted at the ISTE education technology conference in San Antonio. Our Common Sense Media educator network has grown to over 100,000 strong, and the feedback we’re getting about Graphite is inspiring -- like this from a tech-savvy teacher in Kansas City, Missouri: “For the 2013-2014 school year I plan to regularly review technology apps and digital media to hone my role as an instructional technologist, as well as give my teachers and the digital community my critique on the tools I find and/or already use. Thank you for making us aware of this cool part of Common Sense Media.”
It’s our mission at Common Sense Media to help kids, parents, and teachers thrive in today’s 24-7 connected world. And we believe deeply in technology’s potential to transform teaching and learning. That’s what makes Graphite so exciting. With efforts underway to improve connectivity and access to today’s emerging technology in America’s K-12 schools, now is the time to focus on content – getting quality edtech into the hands of enthusiastic teachers and students.
But as a former elementary teacher, I can identify with how challenging and time-consuming that prospect is! It’s not easy to search for and find edtech tools that deliver on their educational claims. In fact, a survey done for Common Sense Media by Harris Interactive shows that even though teachers believe edtech is essential (not just optional) they use it in their classrooms less than once a week! Surprisingly, the numbers barely differ whether these teachers are working in schools with limited computing resources or in 1-to-1 computing environments. (Forty percent of teachers also report that they spend an hour or more each week looking for edtech products to use in their classrooms.)
That’s where Graphite comes in. We like to think of it as a so-called ‘Consumer Reports for edtech’. Based on the rigorous Learning Rating system developed by our team of experts in education, teaching, and child development, teachers using Graphite can find edtech tools covering a broad range of core academic subjects and deeper learning skills, with every product rated and reviewed for student engagement, how well it helps students learn, and the support it offers teachers. And at the core of Graphite is a growing community of enthusiastic educators who share their personal insights and expertise in ‘field notes’ about what products they use, how they use them, and what works best in their classrooms. Now they’re also able to create ‘Pinterest’ type boards of their favorite apps, games, and websites, and share these boards with their colleagues, classroom parents or peers across the country. They can also follow other teachers’ boards, giving them wide access to the shared wisdom of the growing community of educators on Graphite.
Today marks an exciting milestone in optimizing education technology for students and teachers in any K-12 classroom. In collaboration with our philanthropic partners, we hope to empower teachers, inspire learning, and the development of 21st century skills. Please check out www.graphite.org and let us know what you think!
Jim Steyer, Common Sense Media CEO and founder