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How to Choose the Right Edtech Platforms for Your School

by | Jan 15, 2019 | Technology

Administration, school boards and chief academic officers may have their hands full when it comes time to procure new edtech platforms. The rapid evolution of edtech tools and resources seems to provide many opportunities to enhance the educational experience, but can be daunting for those who must find an edtech platform that is a match for the requirements of their specific school.

What is of primary importance is to understand the needs of students and the capacity of the school or district to properly integrate and roll-out the new platform. Understand more about the initial thought-process that is involved in selecting a suitable edtech platform and some of the resources currently available to make it simpler.

Getting Lost While Getting Started

It can be easy to lose sight of the top priority of improving student learning when getting a ‘Request for Proposal.’ Stakeholders often look through the offers and attempt to get the most devices or applications in an edtech platform. However, this does not mean that the chosen platform would be the one that would work best within a specific district. It can also be hard even to create a shortlist of platforms as there are over 2,300 edtech tools on the market.

Districts face the need to buy digital curriculum but are offered little, if any, guidance on the process. Edtech tools may look good but not provide evidence of effectiveness. To select a suitable platform, administration and stakeholders can benefit from:

  • Learning to evaluate edtech technologies
  • Understanding why some products suit one school, but not another
  • Exploring best practices on integrating edtech tools
  • Monitoring the progress of a school using a particular platform

Aside from hiring a consultant, other solutions to help buy the right edtech platform include reviews on edtech tools from Common Sense®, research from Digital Promise® on edtech tools, as well as compilations on pricing information by Technology for Education Consortium. These resources can make the process easier for individuals tasked with determining which of the many edtech platforms and tools available may prove to be useful in their school.

Also, the adoption of any new platform or tool requires buy-in from teachers. Edtech platforms and tools that can help with lesson planning, marking papers, sharing resources and creating communication channels with students and parents may be attractive to busy educators in a school. To properly implement the new platform, educators need the opportunity for training, and that may prove difficult in many districts. Stakeholders need to create additional time for teachers to understand how they may best use any chosen edtech platform.

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Questions Worth Asking

Educators, administration and board members can find it useful to make some inquiry in regards to their needs before selection of an edtech product. Educators and the principal of the school may want to delve into:

  • Why students should learn a particular subject matter
  • What the experience of discovering that information or lesson be like
  • If the use of technology can enhance the experience or improve the efficiency of the learning process

A thoughtful approach to the current K-12 curriculum, themes and subject matter can help educators focus on which areas would be best supported by an edtech platform. Technology can be instrumental in some tasks but not be of additional value in others. It is essential that any platform chosen will help teachers in the classroom educate their students and not be viewed as a burden or superfluous. Therefore, a meaningful examination of the needs of teachers and students to be affected by the use of the edtech platform should be performed before its purchase. Most districts are looking for a platform that addresses needs in areas such as:

  • Math
    ELA/ELL/Reading
    A Learning Management System (LMS)

One or more individuals assigned to choosing the edtech platform need to determine what technologies will enhance the learning experience for students and be welcomed by educators in their school or district. In addition to reading reviews or working with a change management consultant, approaching those in a professional learning network or PLN can be useful as one may be able to get additional insights on their experience with edtech platforms and their effectiveness, but should be balanced with the demographics of their school, their access to other resources, and their budget.

Additional Reading

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