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Does Your School Really Need The Technology? 7 Questions

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The last two years have seen an explosion in the number of educational technology products in schools. This is in part due to free trials by companies during the pandemic and his multi-billion dollar federal COVID relief donations.

Educational technology leaders across the country are now looking at the tools teachers are actually using to figure out where to invest their increasingly scarce technology budgets.

Heather Esposito, a technology coach for the Cherry Hill, N.J., school district, has worked through that process in her district. She suggests that educational technology leaders should “really sit down and say, ‘What about this platform? Does it meet a need or solve a problem?’ “There is,” she said. “Otherwise, your teacher may just be caught up in the hype.”

Educators and experts say there are seven questions community and school leaders should ask when deciding whether a technology product is worth sticking with or trying for the first time.

1. Do you meet state privacy laws that are changing across the country?

For most school districts, it doesn’t do well when tools use student data without proper safeguards. School districts, such as Los Angeles Unified and Union County, North Carolina, track companies that have data-sharing agreements with them to ensure that student and employee data is adequately protected. If a product is not included in a data sharing agreement, the school district discourages educators from using it.

2. Does the technology have features that can be accessed by students who may have hearing or vision difficulties or have specific learning needs?

These capabilities are becoming more and more important, and educational technology companies are taking notice. Features like closed captioning and text-to-speech are at “table stakes” for some school districts planning to use the tool with groups such as English learners and special education students, said the co-founder. Karl Lectanus, CEO and CEO, said. LearnPlatform.

3. Consistent with the district’s approach to teaching specific subjects?

For example, Union County requires curriculum departments to review literacy tools to ensure they match the district’s approach to teaching literacy. Products on other subjects may also be vetted by the appropriate departments.

4. Are you replicating tools that your school district already uses extensively?

For example, Esposito persuaded the district’s middle school to abandon its own tool for formative assessment and introduce one tool for both high schools. This is also to make life easier for children transitioning from one level to another.

5. Will it work with district hardware and software?

Interoperability may be a jargon that even teachers and school leaders turn a blind eye to, but it’s a necessary factor in determining if a technology tool is right for you. Schools need educational technology tools that can interact and share data. Otherwise things get very messy and confusing.

6. Do teachers like educational technology products?

Individual teachers, or even entire departments, can let school and district leaders know if they’ve found a digital learning tool they’re particularly excited about. In the Cherry Hill neighborhood of New Jersey, several schools have purchased virtual programs after science teachers raved about using tools to expand what students could do.

7. Is there clear evidence that technology can help improve student learning?

Teachers, principals and school district leaders need to keep an eye on the goal of student progress when choosing which learning tools to keep students, or trying out learning tools for the first time, said Esposito. said. “If a platform doesn’t help students improve their grades, why did you choose it?” she asked. “Some things are kind of fun, some have gimmicks, but gimmicks don’t help students learn.”