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Put Students First: Is It Time to Re-Evaluate Your EdTech Software?

  • Ryan Crawley
  • |
  • November 7, 2019

EdTech usage is down, according to an article by EdWeek. Discover why, and determine whether it’s time for your school to re-evaluate its EdTech software.

As tech advances, the way education is presented in schools will evolve. At least, that is what’s supposed to happen. But based on a few recent reports, EdTech has yet to reach its full potential (and usage) in today’s classrooms.  

What Is EdTech?

EdTech is a combination of education with technology. In classrooms across the globe, educators are taking IT tools and using them in all lessons in an effort to enhance students’ learning through the use of modern technology. 

For example, instead of teaching a subject straight out of a textbook, a teacher may include videos on the Smartboard, research from reputable websites, a video conference with an expert on the topic, and a myriad of apps that can be utilized before, during, and after the presentation of the lesson. 

Something Happened on the Way to the Future

As more school districts jump on the EdTech bandwagon, more software purchases for the classroom are being made by administrators. This sounds like a great plan in theory. After all, introducing emerging EdTech software to the classroom in today’s digital age should be a no-brainer. 

The problem here, however, is that oftentimes not enough due diligence is done in order to choose the right software. Why? Let’s dig in and find out.

The Need for Alignment Between EdTech Software and Classroom Learning

Education Week, an independent news organization that has covered educational topics for close to four decades, has recently reported on the issue of EdTech software not being used as frequently as originally thought both in and out of the classroom by the teachers and the students. 

Author Alyson Klein for Education Week spoke of reports of how certain software programs being purchased are not popular or favored by the teaching staff nor the students. 

Low usage of the software is having administration and school boards wondering if EdTech is worth the investment at this time. Purchasing software licenses for entire school districts is not cheap, so if the programs are not being utilized, it is seen as a waste of funds that most districts cannot afford. 

The Analytics Are Head-Scratching

Glimpse K12, a company that analyzes these software purchases return on educational investment, is reporting some startling numbers. There were 275 K-12 schools in the United States that were evaluated for their spending on software programs. 

It was reported that 67 percent of all school software licenses on average were left unused. In some school districts, the number was even higher at 90 percent. This resulted in about $2 million being wasted on software programs in one year that educators and students were not using nor interested in. 

Why Purchase Software If It’s Not Used?

Technology in the classroom is generally a resource that is being underutilized by most educators at the moment. 

If a true effort is made to include EdTech into every lesson plan, and it should be since it brings certain benefits to the students, it would bring on a full revolution to how education is presented in the classroom. However, there are certain problems that must be met head-on before any more money is wasted on programs that are not going to be incorporated into everyday lessons. 

Educators Have to Be on Board

If the educator is not interested in utilizing a certain software program, then questions have to be asked. Does the teacher just not want to use technology in their classroom? Do they feel as if they have the skills needed in the first place to present the software to the students? Is more training required across the staff? 

Communication Has to Be Improved Between Administration and Staff

If administration is making these EdTech software purchases without first consulting the teaching staff, then the process of choosing these programs need to be re-evaluated. After all, the educators are in the trenches. They are the ones that will have a better idea on the software programs they will use and the ones they don’t. If administration can meet with the staff and hammer out an agreement on which programs will be purchased, how often they must be used in the classroom, and the results they want at the end, this will be a great first step in the right direction. 

The Excitement Has to Be There Across the Board

The teaching staff has to be excited about presenting these EdTech software programs to their students. Administration may be sold on what programs they should use in their district, but the teachers have to be as enthusiastic about it, too. Plus, don’t forget the deciding factor in all of this.

Most Importantly: Students Need to Love the EdTech As Well

When it comes down to it, the students need to be considered first and foremost when determining the EdTech solution. Administration and educators may see the possibilities with certain EdTech, but if the students are not as passionate about using the software, then there will be a giant disconnect between the three branches of administration, educators, and students. All three need to be in agreement otherwise the EdTech may not be as successful as it could be. 

EdTech That Excites Students vs. EdTech That Impresses Educators

There has always been a bit of a disconnect from one generation to the next. Whether we are talking about music, movies, books, or television shows, one generation does not always agree with another. However, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a great place to start when determining EdTech software that can speak to the masses. 

If a school district is wondering what type of professional development workshop they should add every year to the schedule, the ISTE would be the perfect place to start. Educators will be able to see first hand how EdTech can make all the difference in the world for students. And being able to see it displayed instead of trying to read about it on a company website will definitely bring the software to life. In fact, the teachers would probably emerge with a list of EdTech programs that both the students and staff would love. 

Pro-Tip: Keep Student-Interest Top-of-Mind

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education is on the forefront of emerging concepts in the classroom as it integrates several subjects into one lesson. Augmented reality apps and programs implement STEAM elements and will usually have students enthusiastic about learning again. 

Every student learns a bit differently from the next. There are those that can pick up information quickly when they have it presented in a video to them rather than through text. With the right video software and websites, it enables students to learn at their own pace. 

Interactive games and lessons are a surefire way to grab a student’s attention. If students can play a game associated with the lesson topic and learn at the same time, it is definitely a win-win situation. Presenting a fun experience through EdTech games will increase how quickly they learn something and their ability to recall the information when needed. 

There are countless presentation apps available for classroom use currently out there. Plus, there is a variety of them as well. Teachers may ask their students to compose a slide presentation, a video presentation, an audio presentation, an animation presentation, or a combination of all four. 

Find EdTech That Is Enjoyed By All

School districts need to watch their dollars nowadays. There is usually not a lot of give in school budgets for a costly mistake. If administrators and the teaching staff can work together with the students’ inclinations in mind, there will no longer be money wasted or EdTech software that is left unused.  

Ryan Crawley
ABOUT RYAN

Ryan Crawley is a journalist, educator, and health and fitness fanatic that currently makes his home in Illinois. Having spent more than a decade in the wonderful world of education as a Reading Specialist, Technology Instructor, and classroom teacher, he has experienced it all. In his free moments, he likes to write books for children that will hopefully be on shelves in the near future. Connect with Ryan at ryancrawley54@gmail.com.