As the vast selection of technology solutions for education continues to grow, K–12 schools find it harder to decide on which products to invest in.
Districts want to know the money budgeted for technology integration will provide the best outcomes for their particular schools’ needs. The International Society for Technology in Education partnered with nonprofit organization Project Unicorn to create a report outlining five key recommendations schools should consider in technology investment decisions.
1. Alignment with Student Learning Goals and Standards
When comparing technologies, it’s not about what is the newest and most modern. Technology should be used to support learning in the classroom, enhance instructional methods and positively impact student achievement.
Therefore, it is essential to consider what products will serve as tools that align with student learning goals and standards. Microsoft for Education is one such solution that offers an extensive range of applications and tools specifically designed to target educational learning outcomes in science, technology, engineering and math.
Another factor to consider is how the product can be used to support student learning needs across multiple subjects. Virtual reality sets have become a top investment for schools because of their versatility across subjects. Social studies classes may use them to take students through a historical field trip, while science departments can immerse students in the solar system. Products that can address standards across all curricula are an investment the whole school can get behind.
2. Importance of Research and Evidence to Find the Best Fit
The best way to ensure the product’s reliability and effectiveness is through research. Consider your high-needs areas and look for technology that has a successful track record of addressing those needs.
The interactive whiteboard is a great example. This tool not only displays evidence of enhanced direct instruction but also shows increased student engagement. Schools that aim to improve the student learning experience should invest in technology that proves impact before trying newer solutions.
Looking for technology that will bridge learning beyond the classroom in a secure system? Thousands of schools budgeted for Chromebooks. These cost-effective devices support a wide range of learners and show a direct impact on student success.
3. Interoperability and Student Data Privacy and Protection
With the ever-expanding role of technology in classrooms, schools must ensure the security and efficacy of data through enhanced interoperability. The infrastructure needs to handle massive amounts of information, run efficiently and protect student privacy.
When it comes to student protection, G Suite assures full data security and provides clear information on its privacy policies, highlighting its compliance with rigorous standards from organizations such as the Software and Information Industry Association.
Forward-thinking schools are anticipating the demands of exponential growth in K–12 technology use and are investing in hyperconverged infrastructure. Hyperconvergence brings computing, storage and networking into one system, all managed through a single platform. Integrated systems like these make for greater efficiency and lower risk when handling student data, offering a secure, manageable data solution for schools.
4. Challenges of Implementation, Use and Ongoing Support
As with all new initiatives, the implementation of new technology needs a clear mission and ongoing support. Educators should not only receive continuous training but also have a strong understanding of the purpose behind the technology.
Schools should be able to identify in what ways the product will benefit the classroom and convey their expected outcomes. Goals for the use of technology should start small and gradually become a more significant part of the learning.
The key is to anticipate challenges and keep an open communication channel with teachers because they use this technology every day. The Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan stresses that “although vision is critical to transforming teaching and learning, a strategic implementation plan is key to success.”
5. Communication with Educators as Purchasing Partners
If the consideration of technology is dependent on what will be most beneficial for the success of the school, then teachers should be involved. Educators have insightful knowledge about their students’ needs and can be valuable assets in informing purchasing decisions. If teachers are recognized as partners in the decision-making process, they are much more likely to support and implement the product in the classroom.