Recently, Education Week published an article about the decline of ed-tech usage levels and what schools should do to prevent further decline. The article highlights a handful of school districts across the nation and dug into their respective ed-tech usage. A common challenge in schools is purchasing a piece of software without thoroughly vetting how it should be used and putting a plan in place for adoption. The article goes on to explain that setting realistic expectations before purchasing is one of the first steps in getting “the best bang for your education technology buck.”

We asked two of our education technology experts to weigh in on how they’re evaluating software and platforms to introduce to their respective teaching and learning environments.

What is the VOI?

Glenn Corson, Technology Director and CETL, echoes CoSN by recommending that districts not just evaluate Return on Investment (ROI), but also Value of Investment (VOI). While this adds a subjective component to determine value, oftentimes a piece of ed-tech may have more impact that just ROI. In addition to VOI, Glenn implores schools to consider measurable academic impact:

  • Can you demonstrate a measurable benefit to using the technology?
  • Have scores increased?
  • Have gaps closed?

Even with high adoption, if benefits are not easily measured, the VOI may be hard to justify. Yet, a platform – or software – purchased for special needs students (a small population) may be deemed a success if it closes important achievement gaps.

Editor’s note: October is Cybersecurity month. When you’re done with this article, check out more articles on cybersecurity and schools.

Does it meet the learning need?

Angel DeGrasse, Academic Technology Coordinator, drew on her years of experience in the classroom to provide recommendations. “The key statement in the entire article was when Culatta said that district officials should ask, ‘Is it meeting the learning need?’ This is what we should be asking of all ed-tech products that we are using in schools. Every school is different, but EVERY school should have learning at the top of their list of priorities.”

As an experienced integrator, Angel has worked with teachers of all backgrounds and experiences. She does not believe that aging workers is a contributing factor to low ed-tech usage levels. They – like students – just need to understand the value of what they’re learning to use. Angel recommends against schools using a one-size-fits-all approach to purchasing ed-tech. Listen to the needs of the teachers, evaluate the learning occurring in the classroom, and then make decisions to purchase or renew. The ultimate priority is meeting the learning needs of the students.

Stay tuned for more from our educational technology experts.
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