Sep 02 2021

How to Choose K–12 Educational Technology Intentionally

To select the right tools, IT decision-makers must understand their district’s and educators’ objectives.

When it comes to choosing educational technology, K–12 IT leaders have the opportunity — after more than a year of using whatever was available to achieve learning — to choose tools intentionally. Educators, administrators and technology specialists have the chance to take what they’ve learned during remote learning, evaluate what they’ve implemented and decide how they want to move forward with ed tech.

There are many technologies now for K–12 classrooms. Over the past year and a half, well-respected companies introduced new tools and new companies stepped into the ed tech space to meet educators’ needs. As IT leaders evaluate new technologies for this school year and into the future, they’ll need to do so with specific goals in mind.

“When you think about intentionality, it’s really looking at those learning outcomes,” says Lakisha Brinson, director of instructional technology and library services at Metro Nashville Public Schools in Tennessee. “What do we want the students to achieve, and which tool does that?”

WATCH NOW: Lakisha Brinson discusses blended learning now and in the future.

How to Choose the Right Technology for Your District

When IT decision-makers consider the results they’re trying to achieve, they may find new tools they hadn’t previously considered.

“Sometimes we get stuck on the tool first, but it’s really not about the tool,” Brinson says. “It’s outcome first, then find the tool that supports the outcome.”

To determine the desired outcome, ed tech specialists should be looking at both the district’s objectives and the educators’ objectives. This starts with a conversation. When ed tech leaders, teachers and librarians initiate conversations about their tech needs, those conversations make their way up the chain to administrators.

“What I have found is that impact happens when you start talking and teachers start talking and the principal starts talking,” Brinson says of bringing the conversation to superintendents and executive directors. “It filters up, and it always gets to where it needs to be.”

Dr. Lakisha Brinson
What I see changing is how we begin with the end in mind in terms of the lesson plan, and in terms of technology being a part of everyday planning and not an afterthought.”

Lakisha Brinson Director of Instructional Technology and Library Services, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Districts will be able to find the right technology when the decision-makers and end users mutually understand the goals and learning objectives. “What I see changing is how we begin with the end in mind in terms of the lesson plan, and in terms of technology being a part of everyday planning and not an afterthought,” Brinson says.

What Makes Choosing K–12 Tech Difficult

Finding the right tech for a K–12 school isn’t easy, even when choosing intentionally. Sometimes, associated costs — such as professional development that is needed for new technology — can put an ideal tool over budget. Other times, educators and IT leaders face questions from district leadership on how the technology will be implemented in the classroom.

In her district, Brinson spoke with leadership about the importance of measuring technology’s usefulness the right way. “A big win is that we did not have to make it evaluative this year or next year,” she says. “We’re doing something called 'look for' — things that you could see in a classroom based on years of implementation.”

DIVE DEEPER: Use a structured choice approach to choosing ed tech.

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