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SXSWedu 2016

EdTech’s Blind Spot: Closing the ELL Equity Gap

Teachers and students can find edtech tools for nearly every subject, grade level, and skill. However, very few edtech tools specifically address the complex needs of English Language Learners (ELLs) and their teachers. ELLs are a growing yet underserved segment of the U.S. student population, and teaching these diverse learners presents unique and highly complex challenges. This panel brings together educators and industry experts to explore how digital tools can best serve ELLs. We’ll look at how teachers can use and repurpose existing tech tools, as well as how the edtech industry can innovate to provide new solutions, and possibly even revolutionize how we teach language acquisition.

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  1. Address the challenges facing ELL students and their teachers, including the shortage of edtech tools designed specifically for ELL classrooms.
  2. Discuss strategies that teachers are currently using to teach ELLs, including the creative and innovative implementation of existing tech tools.
  3. Suggest ways edtech developers can innovate to address the complexities of ELL instruction, and look at what some are already doing in this space.


  • Jeff Knutson, Senior Manager, Education Content, Common Sense Education
  • Katie McKay, University Lecturer, Teacher Consultant, University of Texas at Austin, Heart of Texas Writing Project
  • Patricia Velazquez, Assistant Editor, Spanish, Newsela
  • Beverly Fine, Editorial and Outreach Director, BrainPOP ESL, BrainPOP


Jeff Knutson, Sr Mgr, Education Content, Common Sense Education

Meta Information:

  • Tags: edtech, language learning, ell
  • Event: EDU
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Educational Equality
  • Session Focus Area
  • Level: Field Experience
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