Choosing the Right Ed Tech Resources for Your District
How do you identify the right ed tech resources for your district?
Identifying the right ed tech resources for your school district involves multiple steps and processes. To begin, it is always best to include multiple people and offices in the processes to ensure that need, service, added value, and cost are evaluated together.
A first step is to collaborate with Curriculum and Instruction specialists and offices to:
- identify content area needs and determine if the ed tech resources can meet those needs.
- examine the scope of the ed tech resource to see if there is a match to the curriculum and/or grade levels served.
- look at ways the resources could be integrated into multiple curriculum areas to ensure that the resources are used to their full potential.
Once the possible ed tech resources have been aligned with the curriculum, the second step is to proceed with trying out the resources. During the evaluation and selection trials process, it is important to:
- conduct testing sessions and feedback discussions with the district's school library media specialists as they will most likely be the first point of use and contact for the ed tech resource.
- continue to collaborate with the Curriculum and Instruction office as they are the content specialists who can best determine the educational quality of the product.
- look at 508 compliance and ensure the resource meets all requirements.
- make direct comparisons to similar products so that the chosen resource is the best value both in terms of product and cost. Try not to duplicate tools.
- consider the ease of integration with any learning management system to ensure a seamless merge of information.
Of course, it is always necessary to consider the cost and funding for the resource. Before purchasing, you will need to:
- factor in cost per student/school or for the district as a whole.
- analyze the cost of products against the available budget as this most likely will change from year to year.
- monitor return on investment by looking at usage statistics from any products that have been purchased in the past. Just because it was purchased last year does not mean it is the right one to purchase this year.
What are the specific challenges in choosing ed tech resources for your district?
The biggest challenge in choosing the right ed tech resource is student privacy and data management and retention. All school districts are in various stages of determining how their ed tech resources address the responsible use and handling of personally identifiable information and other sensitive data, including student logins and the ways companies retain or store student usage statistics. It is vital to understand and agree to a data sharing agreement before purchasing.
With the ever-changing and ever-expanding choices in ed tech resources, some districts are moving to new digital tool approval processes. These can be multi-step processes with different people involved who are experts in their professional roles. This is a good way to keep track of what's approved, what's under review and what's denied utilizing collaborative and cross-checking ways to put the pieces together in order to complete the ed tech resource puzzle successfully.
There are some excellent resources available to help guide the work of connecting curriculum to ed tech resources.
- Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update by the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education.
- American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Learner Framework Standards
- International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Students
- Next Generation Science Standards
- Common Core State Standards
- National Social Studies Standards
- Common Sense Education: Professional Development and articles