School districts are being asked to do more and more with less and less money, especially when it comes to technology. Educators are tasked with teaching students 21st century skills that prepare them for the future workforce — a job that requires educators to integrate digital tools and software into instruction and learning, and students to master digital literacy.
But funding for digital tools and resources does not match the increasing demand for digital learning, and budgets are being scrutinized more than ever. Administrators must be thoughtful about how money is invested into new technology, making sure that they’re only allocating funds for EdTech that has a positive impact on teaching and learning.
More often than not, EdTech use isn’t restricted to a specific classroom. And the administrators who make final purchasing decisions often aren’t the end users of EdTech products. EdTech is used throughout schools and districts and often has the most impact on teachers and students.
That is why EdTech purchasing decisions can’t be made in a bubble. It’s important to build a collaborative leadership team made up of a diverse group of stakeholders who can work with you to evaluate current EdTech investments and make informed purchasing decisions moving forward.
Building Your Team
A strong, collaborative EdTech leadership team should be diverse. Your team should represent all of your schools (elementary, middle and high schools) and should include:
Not only do these different voices each have a unique perspective of EdTech use, but they also can be essential to building buy-in once new EdTech is implemented.
- For EdTech to be successful, it must be supported. Teachers are more likely to incorporate EdTech into instruction when they understand its benefits and have received training on how to use it.
- Students are more likely to use EdTech if they’ve played a role in choosing it and understand why it’s an important addition to their lessons.
- Even parents are more likely to support EdTech use if they can see how it’s helping their children learn.
This team must be highly collaborative, and everyone involved should feel empowered to weigh in on the state of current EdTech investments and potential new purchases. The following conversation starters can help prompt important discussions around the effectiveness of current EdTech tools, what needs to be done to maximize their effectiveness and what EdTech is still needed to fill the gaps.
- Is this tool making a difference in student achievement?
- Is this tool making our schools and/or district more efficient and productive?
- How are you using this tool in your classrooms?
- What needs to be done to ensure that this tool is used more efficiently and effectively?
- What problems do we still need to solve/goals do we need to achieve?
- Is there EdTech that we don’t already have that can help us do that?
- How can we ensure that new EdTech is implemented with fidelity? What’s missing from our current EdTech implementation process, if we have one?
Making More Confident Decisions
It’s important to take into account multiple perspectives from many stakeholders when making EdTech decisions. But in addition to the qualitative information your collaborative leadership team can provide, you need quantitative data around EdTech to make the most informed decisions.
Having a quality industry partner like NetRef on your leadership team can lend valuable insight into EdTech usage in your district and schools to guide your team conversations and inform final decision-making.
NetRef offers comprehensive data and usage reports for individuals, classrooms, schools, and even the entire district. You can use these reports for a number of purposes, including:
- Comparing usage data to student outcomes to measure impact and validate the return on investment of existing EdTech purchases
- Identifying EdTech that is being utilized consistently and effectively across a district, school or grade level
- Determining which tools aren’t being used so you can explore why and what, if anything, needs to be done to increase usage and effectiveness
Learn more about NetRef and how it can help you make more data-driven EdTech budgeting and purchasing decisions.
This blog post was inspired by our recent webinar with Naomi Harm, Leading Together: The Power of Collaborative EdTech Leadership. Watch the full webinar on-demand here.