Two Questions K-12 EdTech Administrators Should Constantly Be Asking

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Whether you’re vetting countless potential apps for an upcoming school year or reviewing a single tool requested by your teachers, there are two primary questions K-12 administrators should constantly be asking themselves (or others) when selecting new edtech.

What to Ask Before You Buy

The first is does this piece of instructional or operational technology support our strategic and learning goals?”

Pretty obvious, right? Taking into account your organizational goals, such as school improvement plans (SIPs), personalized learning objectives, student data privacy compliance, Title I/ESSA reporting, and other state and federal regulations, is vital for ensuring you select, approve and purchase the right edtech solutions.

Often, school districts opt for a large number of tools to support the various needs of their teachers and students, but our research shows that this can lead to wasted dollars, because a high percentage of the paid licenses used by the average K-12 school district are either never accessed or accessed far below their recommended usage requirements.

Data based on analyses by LearnPlatform of paid student licenses for core math and language arts products by K-12 schools from 2014 - 2017.

Data based on analyses by LearnPlatform of paid student licenses for core math and language arts products by K-12 schools from 2014 - 2017.

In total, of the 548 edtech tools that the average school district uses per month, just 9% are used to full fidelity, meaning 91% of the average edtech budget isn’t being fully maximized. Understanding the extent to which your digital solutions are aligned to your strategic and learning goals can ensure the products you select are not only fully utilized, but effective.

What to Ask After You Buy

While choosing new solutions for your organization requires deep analysis, so too does the processes you already have in place for getting the most out of the tools.

As an edtech administrator, it’s important to constantly ask: “where can we streamline our processes across departments to save time, save money and improve outcomes?” Regularly evaluating the ways in which you find, request, vet, select, purchase, implement and review all the components of your edtech ecosystem can help you create a more effective digital learning environment.

Considering these processes not only gives everyone on your team a clearer and more organized set of procedures to follow, it can also help you identify where your time and dollars can be better spent.

For example, you may discover that your request workflows or vetting and approval processes are more disorganized than you originally thought or are simply inadequate for helping you choosing the right tools to achieve your goals.

One way to find answers to this question is by taking the Personalize Learning @ Scale assessment.

This self-evaluation tool is designed to help you save time, save money and improve the outcomes of your edtech by assessing what stage of “edtech management” you are in and providing actionable strategies for better organizing, streamlining and analyzing your digital inventory. You can take the assessment here, if you’d like.

The Go-to Source of EdTech Insights and Answers

Asking the right questions is imperative for your edtech success, but answering them is often easier said than done. Finding reliable sources to review whether products are aligned to your goals, for instance, can be challenging, as proven by a 2018 study conducted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Jefferson Education Exchange (JEX).

This study found that while edtech product providers and the media were among the “most frequent sources of edtech information” for school- and district-leaders, they were also among the least trusted. Just 24 percent of respondents said they believed edtech vendors were “well-equipped to conduct reliable edtech research,” while only 10 percent felt that way about media organizations.

LearnPlatform features a product library with more than product reviews on more than 5,000 edtech tools, all provided by actual verified educators from around the country, to help you determine which products are right for your organization. On top of that, the free LearnPlatform Chrome Extensions allow you to inventory your current edtech by identifying which products your students and teachers are already using, how often they’re using them and for how long.

Additionally, for those who really want to dive even deeper, our rapid-cycle evaluation tool — IMPACT™ — can analyze individual edtech product utilization, pricing and student achievement data in seconds to inform your instructional, operational and budget decisions.

As you reconnect with the work to be done in 2018-19, and plan for the 2019-20 school year(!), be sure to take advantage of the resources offered by LearnPlatform to answer your most pressing questions and support your organizational goals.

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