Almost every school district faces the same dilemma: how to address the constant need for innovative edtech solutions while meeting expenditure guidelines for COVID relief funding and planning for long-term sustainability.
Administrators are trying to ensure that all students have access to a vibrant education using digital learning solutions, but they have zero wiggle room for wasted spending. Even so, more than $1 billion in purchased edtech licenses are never activated each year, resulting in one of the biggest drains on a district’s finances. Not only does underused, ineffective, or poorly implemented software affect the financial bottom line, more importantly, it affects student outcomes.
Based on the sheer number of edtech companies in the market, many districts end up taking a trial-and-error approach to choosing technology because it can be difficult and time consuming to vet providers. There are few guidelines to help district leaders determine the intended impact outcomes for their students, or which solutions would work best in their schools. If a district does experience a successful technology launch—or on the flip side, a disappointing deployment—they often keep the lessons they learned to themselves.
To address this need, The EdTech Genome Project is empowering district leaders with information to make the best technology decisions for their students. Researchers at the University of Virginia, along with more than 100 education research and advocacy organizations, are establishing a shared language and best practices, and also creating tools that encourage administrators, teachers, and IT professionals to share their knowledge of specific technologies. This initiative allows educators “for the first time ever, to be able to learn, at scale, from the experiences of those working in similar schools and districts.”
A key element of The EdTech Genome Project is the identification of 10 variables that influence the success or failure of a technology’s implementation.
- The vision for teaching and learning that unifies stakeholders.
- Selection processes that identify, evaluate, and choose technology.
- Competing priorities with other initiatives that aren’t tech-based.
- Infrastructure and operations that help you scale and sustain tech.
- Implementation systems and processes.
- Professional learning and development.
- The culture of your team.
- Strategic support from leadership.
- Teacher agency that gives frontline educators a voice.
- The tech beliefs and knowledge your teachers already have.
These variables are also informing the development of the EdTech Context Framework, a tool that will help districts compare and select edtech software. To put this tool into action, the EdTech Evidence Exchange is currently working with educators to collect data from schools nationwide regarding “where edtech is being used, how edtech is being used, and what is working where.”
When the final EdTech Evidence Exchange Platform officially launches, it will be game-changing. It could potentially save districts millions of dollars of spending on under-utilized edtech platforms.
The hope is, going forward, administrators will be better equipped with actionable knowledge from their peers to help them interpret and evaluate how an edtech solution could increase engagement with students, parents, and teachers unique to their district. By understanding how these variables influence and impact one another in their district, administrators will be able to identify solutions that connect with their culture, IT infrastructure, and professional development goals while adhering to their budgets.
Integrations are a big part of successful edtech implementations, and we have more information on that here.