Choosing the Right Ed Tech Resources: Where to begin?
Selecting the right ed tech resources for your class, your school, or your system can be intimidating. Before even beginning the vetting and evaluation process of choosing the resource, collaboration needs to take place with all parties involved. Once that has taken place, there are multiple factors to consider. Those factors can be summarized into three main categories: function, form, and funding.
Function: What is the purpose of the Ed Tech resource?
Possible purposes include:
- Student use in the school library media center for research, inquiry, or collaboration.
- Individual student use in the classroom for supplemental instruction or assessment.
- Faculty or staff use for instructional planning and delivery, professional development, or independent research.
Form: What form will this ed tech resource take in your library, classroom, or school?
- Will it be web-based, accessible 24/7? Or directly installed on individual devices?
- Do you want it in-network with remote access? Or limited to in-school access?
- What devices will be using the resource? How will all students be best served with the resource?
Funding: Who pays for this ed tech resource and how?
- Is the resource subscription-based? Per student/site/system? Is there special pricing for school/system/state consortiums?
- Is there additional funding needed for specific uses of the resource?
Additional challenges to choosing the right resource include maintaining student data privacy, navigating the multitude of products available and their overlapping features/abilities, and the frustration of understanding how products will authenticate with your individual school systems.
Evaluating Ed Tech Resources
Once you have identified some possible candidates for purchase, it's time to tackle the evaluation and vetting process. Many companies offer free trials of their products and this is a fabulous time to explore the resource and determine if it will be a good fit for you, your students, and your staff. It’s a good idea to involve multiple people in the evaluation trials so that different perspectives and user audiences can be represented. If there are concerns with the content, the user experience, or the device compatibility, trial periods are an opportunity to identify and resolve them before the final purchase.
The good news is that there are some resources available to help with the often overwhelming arena of choosing the right ed tech resource. With the explosion of ed tech resources comes supportive web sites and services that can do some of this work for you.
- StudentPrivacyPledge.org - Vetts ed tech resources and companies for compliance with data privacy requirements.
- Common Sense Education - Evaluates resources through both professional experts and a parent’s lens.
Many ed tech professional journals and magazines have reviews in each issue. Professional organizations like the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) publish lists of recommended resources for schools to purchase.
Lastly, remember we are all doing our best to provide the highest quality, most appropriate, and best fit for our students and staff when it comes to ed tech resources. Check out educator resource sites like the PebbleGo Blog to find others chatting about the topic. AASL and ISTE have special interest groups you can join as well. Local and state School Library Media or Educational Technology associations or organizations can be a tremendous resource for collaborative discussions and advice. Start close to home by asking the collective wisdom of your peers and colleagues in your own systems and states. Together, you can wade through the expansive amount of choice to make the right ones for you, your students, and your school or system.