Here's How the Broad Foundation is Connecting Teachers with Technology

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation wants teachers to ditch their “old school” ways in favor of digital media and newfangled classroom technology. The Los Angeles-based funder recently announced a $3 million grant to Common Sense Media, for the purpose of expanding a free ratings and review platform to help teachers discover relevant digital curricula, websites and apps. The program is known as Graphite, and it was launched in August by a team of teachers and education experts who reviewed a thousand digital media tools with practical classroom application. (Read Broad Foundation: Los Angeles Grants).

“Teachers know what’s best for their students. Graphite enables teachers to learn from their peers, rather than from advertising, what tools are most effective for student learning,” said Luis de la Fuente, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation’s senior director who oversees investments in personalized learning.

In California and around the country, teachers are becoming increasingly interested in integrating technology into the processes of teaching and learning. The results of last year's PBS Learning Media survey indicated that while most K-12 teachers already use interactive technology in their lessons, almost all of them are eager to use more in their classrooms.

To break it down, here's what Graphite promises to do for teachers:

  • Sort media reviews by technology type, subject, grade, and price
  • Relate technology to Common Core State Standards
  • Feature resources for English language learners and students with disabilities
  • Rate levels of student interest and support for teachers
  • Feature free online lesson plans for technology integration
  • Expand online forums for teachers to connect with peers and parents

Although the Broad is based in Los Angeles and supportive of local education causes, this is a national funder, and this $3 million grant will be disbursed from coast to coast. Common Sense Media has its headquarters in San Francisco, but offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. as well.

Broad may be helping push Graphite forward, but Bill Gates helped create it in the first place. When Graphite made its public debut, Gates wrote, “Of course, no technology can substitute for the work that teachers and students do together in the classroom. The computers I used in school changed my life, but they couldn’t replace the great teachers I had. I hope that by making it easier for educators to find the tools they want, Graphite will help teachers and students go out and do great things."