Apr 17 2024

3 Keys to Designing Successful Tech-Enabled Education

Make investments in educational technology that harmonizes with school budgets, educator needs and student interests.

Classroom technology supports the daily needs of educators and students across the country. With a wide variety of hardware and software solutions that gather and share information, facilitate group work, enable remote learning, broadcast messages and more, the scope of educational technology is broadening, leaving some schools unsure about where to invest.

As K–12 leaders endeavor to design classrooms to best serve today’s learners, they must leverage technology to ensure that the educational experience is relevant to students’ learning goals and outcomes.

To maximize the educational returns on their technology investments, school districts should create plans that focus on boosting student achievement with future-ready solutions.

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1. Student Engagement Is Essential to Positive Outcomes

Educators have long understood that learning outcomes improve when learning is fun, exciting and interesting for students. As the use of technology has grown, engagement has become the new classroom metric, with increased engagement often correlating with higher achievement.

According to a report from the Brookings Institution, “Evidence indicates that technology may accelerate student learning when it is used to scale up access to quality content, facilitate differentiated instruction, increase opportunities for practice, or when it increases learner engagement.”

The report goes on to note that successful implementation of technology relies on identifying how it alters interactions between educators, learners and content. This shows that investments in technology don’t automatically produce greater engagement; rather, the tech must alter interactions in the classroom to do so.

For this reason, it’s vital that schools maximize their technologies’ capabilities. For example, adding a digital whiteboard in a classroom doesn’t change experiences or engagement if educators use it the same way they would a traditional whiteboard. Students, many of whom have been raised alongside engaging and interactive devices, will probably show only minimal increases in engagement if educators aren’t using the interactive whiteboard’s advanced capabilities, such as screen sharing, digital annotation, and access to apps and multimedia resources.

RELATED: Modern digital whiteboards liven up K–12 classrooms with interactive lessons.

2. Make Tech Simple with Interoperability and Flexibility

If a new device is complex or has a steep learning curve, and schools don’t provide adequate professional development, the technology is likely to gather dust, leaving little to show for the investment. This is especially true in K–12 institutions, where teachers don’t have time to deal with frequent tech interruptions or delays.

The need for easy-to-use tech solutions is exacerbated by a lack of IT staffing in “providing instructional support around classroom use” and “integrating technology into the classroom,” a 2023 Consortium for School Networking survey found. With 56 percent and 50 percent of schools understaffed in these areas, respectively, there’s a clear need for ed tech that requires minimal IT support.


The percentage of schools that don’t have enough IT staff to integrate technology into the classroom

Source: CoSN, CoSN 2023 State of EdTech Leadership, April 2023

Interoperability is one way to enhance simplicity for IT staff, technology managers, educators and students, with technologies that work together and experiences that are the same throughout a school or district. Any solutions integrating with personal devices also need to be widely compatible with popular operating systems to ensure that the devices can connect for their full functionality.

Flexibility can also support ease of use across grade levels and subject areas. For example, putting whiteboards, projectors and other technologies on carts or mobile stands can maximize the value of each investment. What’s more, this flexibility can make the tools easier for teachers to set up and use in their lessons.

3. Find Value with Purchases That Will Last

Technology’s accelerating evolution can pose unique problems, as evidenced by the proliferation of generative artificial intelligence. K–12 organizations have scrambled to address changing capabilities and expectations while finding the right AI solutions to integrate into the classroom.

DIVE DEEPER: Here are three ways K–12 educators can use artificial intelligence.

K–12 decision-makers who want to maximize the flexibility and future capabilities of a technology investment need to choose the right features, which often depends on their working with the right partners. Buyers may be able to reduce upfront costs by purchasing last year’s model. However, those choices are likely to reduce the technology’s life span and require more frequent repairs and replacements, especially when considering compatibility with third-party advancements.

Procuring technologies from a trusted brand can make it easier to service, upgrade and expand over time. As educational technology becomes inseparable from in-school education, having a trusted relationship with a supportive technology provider may be as important to daily business as having reliable electricity.

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