FAQs: EdTech Management & LearnPlatform

For answers and information on many common topics, simply select the question below. 

Of course, you can always contact us if the information provided doesn’t answer your question or you'd like additional information. 

What is edtech management?

Edtech management encompasses all stages of finding, buying, organizing, implementing, evaluating and measuring instructional technology, and all of the processes therein. A fairly new concept, edtech management aims to maximize the value of the vastly increasing edtech product market, so that educators and administrators in K12 and higher education organizations have oversight of their resource allocations with regard to teaching hardware and software.

What is an edtech management platform?

An edtech management platform is a central system for finding, buying, organizing, implementing, evaluating and measuring instructional technology. Via one login from any location, users can use this software as a service to streamline processes, maintain an approved product portfolio, manage contracts and purchasing, and solicit and review edtech feedback from their educators.

Is an edtech management platform the same as a learning management system (LMS) or student information system (SIS)?

An edtech management platform is different from a LMS and a SIS. A LMS is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses or training programs - it deals primarily with the hosting and delivery of instruction. A SIS is an information system with which education establishments manage student data - it is a repository for student demographics, grades, etc. In contrast, an edtech management platform is a central system for finding, buying, organizing, implementing, evaluating and measuring instructional technology. A management platform does not host and deliver instruction, nor does it manage comprehensive student data that is not related to edtech usage.

What is LearnPlatform?

LearnPlatform connects the largest network of educators, administrators and organizations improving student outcomes through data-driven instructional, budget and resource decisions. Designed with, by and for educators and administrators, the research-based, configurable LearnPlatform manages all aspects of edtech with a single system to organize, streamline and analyze all learning tools.

What is Lea(R)n?

A benefit corporation founded in 2014, Lea(R)n is a team of educators, administrators, researchers and technologists who designed and developed LearnPlatform (an expansion of LearnTrials). Working with learning organizations across the United States, the team continues improvement on the platform, supports successful implementation and data analysis, and participates in research collaboratives, panels and forums to advance efficacy and data-driven decision making. The Lea(R)n team establishes and elevates standards of practice that drive personalized learning at scale, student achievement and equitable access to education technologies.

Does LearnPlatform integrate with other systems?

LearnPlatform simply and easily integrates with SIS and other school systems. The Lea(R)n technical support and implementation teams can quickly collaborate with the customer’s designated point of contact to coordinate the appropriate level of connectivity.

How do we know if we need an edtech management system?

If your educators are using digital teaching tools, instructional technologies and classroom software and hardware — paid licenses or OER— you could benefit from managing those in one easily accessible system. Centralizing an approved product library, aligned to your student improvement plans, achievement goals and compliance requirements, provides your teachers with an appropriate portfolio from which to choose edtech for their students. Streamlining also vastly simplifies vetting, procurement, RFIs and RFPs, contract storage and renewals management, providing a system of record for all products (with purchase, pricing and utilization history) to save time and money.

If we don’t know how much edtech we’re using, how would LearnPlatform help us?

A lot of learning organizations use LearnPlatform to “start somewhere.” Schools and districts can shift from using spreadsheets that often are stored nowhere and everywhere to a single, configurable on-demand system. Administrators can enter all known current products from spreadsheets, then invite teachers to contribute tools to the product library. Administrators can also set various user permissions, and leverage workflows to test, request, approve and decline products. Additionally, installing and activating the free Google Chrome Extensions, LearnPlatform for Educators and LearnPlatform for Students, provides edtech usage information without any adjustment to teacher practice. G Suite for Education organizations can install and activate the district-wide extensions to capture information on what edtech sites are accessed, how much, and for how long. Edtech usage reports can be delivered to the requestor’s (or their designee’s) inbox each month - at no cost.

If we are not using much edtech, do we really need an edtech management platform?

The U.S. alone is spending $8 billion each year on edtech - an industry growing at 17% annually. Even if your teachers are just using a few tools, the growth of edtech programs, applications and products will continue increasing and adoption will continue shifting from tech savvy early adopters to more mainstream users every year. As more experienced educators look toward a well-deserved retirement, and new teachers shift from being students to leading students, instructional technology use will increase to better support personalized learning at scale, close the achievement gap and meet various school improvement goals. Getting a head start on organizing, streamlining and analyzing all edtech when there are four, six or 12 products creates a sustainable, system-led foundation and process to carve a path forward (before it’s dozens, then hundreds of tools). Using LearnPlatform, you can set compliance and usage data requirements, manage purchases and contract renewals, and maintain an institutional (rather than tribal) record of your instructional tools with visibility to utilization and measurement across your entire organization.

Where can we find budget to pay for edtech management?

Edtech management is new enough, and intangible enough, that we are often asked how schools and districts should pay for something that doesn’t have a historical line item in their previous budgets. There are a number of avenues for funding edtech management - and Lea(R)n’s mission and commitment to equitable access provide still another route.

Typically, the savings in unused or underutilized licenses (identified in an edtech assessment or IMPACT Analysis report) frees up dollars for schools to pursue programs that work for them (a small portion of which can actually fund the LearnPlatform). Organizations typically see between 9-15x ROI in their initial engagement, freeing resources for the subscription and appropriate support for adjusted implementation and professional development, and any supplemental tools or materials.

With regard to ESSA requirements, Title I and Title IV dollars explicitly allow and encourage funds (up to 15%) to be used to manage and measure evidence to meet ESSA standards. As stated in the Department of Education guidance on the use of funds for a provision of the ESSA, a Local Education Agency (LEA) can use funds "to purchase or create a system that improves the procurement and evaluation process for identifying solutions and implementations that match the context of the SEA or LEA.”

PTAs, community groups and boards also have funds for inventorying and evaluating instructional tools, understanding that getting a handle on edtech budgets and making data-driven decisions to use what works improves practices. We never want cost to be a deterrent to discovering what you have, what works and what that means for student achievement. We work with schools, districts, states and networks of all sizes and can customize LearnPlatform features and contracts to meet those needs.

Which learning organizations can benefit from LearnPlatform?

All learning organizations using or planning to use free and/or paid edtech tools can benefit from a LearnPlatform subscription. LearnPlatform community participation empowers (and is always free for) verified educators to share their voice on what edtech works in classrooms, collaborate and share with peers, and search the largest contextual edtech product library for tools to fit their needs. LearnPlatform is on-demand and configurable to meet the unique needs of a single school; organization-wide needs of an entire district or institution of higher education; and overarching specifications of a member network or whole state. Because LearnPlatform is a comprehensive and configurable system, organizations can take advantage of the components that meet their highest priorities first, and access other facets as their needs evolve.

In what ways is LearnPlatform configurable?

LearnPlatform’s technological, functional, user interface, support and reporting features are all configurable. From defining primary engagement goals, to working with the Lea(R)n customer success team, to creating a user experience aligned to your learning organization (so it’s yours and familiar, instead of looking like another program), to defining a customized product library with approval specifications and achievement goals, to including role types and processes, LearnPlatform can be tailored for you. Systems are only as good as the practical needs they can meet without creating more work for the people who use them. Our customer success and implementation, research and analysis, and product and technology teams connect with users continuously to gather feature and functionality requests and improve LearnPlatform.

Where does LearnPlatform get the data for rapid cycle edtech evaluation (IMPACT Analysis)?

Schools and districts have the data (usage, achievement, pricing) used to produce evidence-based IMPACT Analysis reports and dashboards on student engagement and product efficacy. Product companies should provide schools with usage or utilization data as part of their license or contract agreement. For complete FAQs on IMPACT Analysis, the underlying research and methodology, and types of analyses, see IMPACT FAQs.

What does LearnPlatform do with my data?

LearnPlatform’s research and analytics team can assist with data merger from various sources, formatting and cleaning. Once complete, the data file is loaded into the platform to generate IMPACT Analysis reports. Learning organizations own their data.

Is my data, including student information, safe and private?

Lea(R)n takes data integrity and student safety and privacy very seriously. LearnPlatform is aligned to all compliance requirements, and the team regularly audits practices and systems to ensure safe use. View our privacy policy for more information.