Choosing the best EdTech tools for your K-12 school or other educational organization can be an overwhelming task, but answering a few key questions can help. This spotlight on how to purchase EdTech solutions outlines the top five questions to consider as you research various EdTech tools, talk with salespeople, watch demos and ultimately decide on the right EdTech products for your needs.
1. What are the gaps you want to fill with technology?
In this world of constantly changing technologies and new EdTech tools, educators are often inundated with a whole host of tech options that may or may not be relevant to their actual needs. One of the first ways to narrow down your shopping list is to pinpoint the learning objectives you want to accomplish with any particular educational technology solution. Consider the modern educational solutions that are missing from your organization and then identify which tools will meet those criteria.
Gaps you may want to fill in your students’ experience, for example, could be:
Collecting homework through an online portal
Enabling remote learning via a virtual learning platform
Gamifying lessons with interactive learning software
Setting up video chats with international students
Administering online assignments and exams
Delivering laptops to underserved students
These are just a few ways that today’s educators are using EdTech to enhance the learning experience and fill gaps in traditional methods.
2. How will a new EdTech tool integrate with your existing tech and operations?
Purchasing a new EdTech solution is one thing, and making it work for your organization is another. Before investing, it’s important to strategize how well the hardware or software you are considering will integrate into your classroom on a realistic level. As a school administrator, you may be looking into an EdTech tool for teachers to use in their daily lessons, for example, but it’s essential to first ask:
Is your existing IT infrastructure able to support the new technology? And if not, what additional technology will be needed? Be sure to include security in your analysis.
Are teachers willing and able to integrate the new tool into their lessons, or is the money spent on new technology going to be wasted?
To answer these questions as a school administrator, you may want to perform an IT audit of your existing infrastructure, and also talk with teachers directly about how they might use specific technology in their lessons.
If you are a tutoring/training business owner, make sure you and your students have both the necessary computer equipment and bandwidth to use any EdTech you might want to introduce.
3. How will students experience the tool?
Before adopting any EdTech that you think will be a wonderful teaching tool, make sure it will be great for students as well. When going through demos for online teaching platforms, for example, request to be shown the student side of the software, in addition to the administrator’s portal. Take your time to gain a true understanding of how students will engage with the tool, and whether or not it will actually enhance the learning experience.
4. Does the tool facilitate student engagement?
As one of the key components of a quality learning experience, collaboration among students is important to consider when purchasing any EdTech solution. While student engagement is not necessarily a requirement for EdTech to work, it is a fundamental benefit of technology, that if left out of a product, should not be overlooked.
For example, an online meeting platform may enable your organization to hold virtual meetings, but if it’s not designed for educational purposes, it may not offer interactive features that other EdTech tools do, like virtual in-class group discussions or virtual whiteboards.
5. Is the product worth the price?
Thousands of cutting-edge EdTech tools are available to explore, so even if you find one that you think might be useful, take a moment to consider the pricing compared to similar tools. You may be able to find a more budget-friendly solution that does what you want, and perhaps even more.
By the same token, it’s important to think about whether or not you will use the full features of a tool you’re considering. If not, you may be able to find a simpler product at a lower price.
Next: Start exploring the best EdTech tools
The best EdTech tools in general are those that add a higher level of student engagement and interactivity to the learning experience, at a price you can afford. Today, there are thousands of products to consider, so these five questions provide a starting foundation for ensuring you can make wise, efficient and secure EdTech tool purchasing decisions for your school or private education business.
If you need a starting point for your research into EdTech tools, take a look at the HiLink online teaching platform. Designed for education, HiLink makes it easy to run a virtual classroom that allows high levels of student engagement. Learn how this EdTech solution might work for you by starting a free trial today.