Do It Right the First Time: How to Maximize Your Edtech Investment

Practice and Implementation Strategies

Do It Right the First Time: How to Maximize Your Edtech Investment

from Promethean

By Cheryl Miller     Apr 14, 2020

Do It Right the First Time: How to Maximize Your Edtech Investment

From cutting-edge computing and cloud services to data-driven instruction and adaptive learning, K-12 edtech solutions are abundant. Unfortunately, so are school budget restrictions, unmanageable workloads and aging (not to mention underperforming) classroom technology, to name just a few concerns.

For administrators deciding which solutions to invest in, time and resources are limited. This makes implementation a critical—occasionally daunting—step to take. Yet, there are plenty of school districts whose implementation success stories provide useful guidance for finding new technology solutions to improve instruction.

Let’s explore the four principles that schools and districts should follow in order to maximize the potential of new classroom technology.

1. Prioritize early evaluation

With so many options being showcased at trade shows and conferences or on social media, it’s tempting to make your mind up before the search has even started. But it’s best to try before you buy. Implementing new technology—at either the school or district level—will affect many different types of educators, IT leaders and administrators. Each stakeholder’s experience must be considered.

For Sarasota County Schools in Sarasota County, Fla., it was crucial to create a checklist specifying what the new technology should accomplish. The district’s IT staff gathered a team of teachers, administrators and support staff to find out which edtech selections enhanced teachers’ and students’ daily activities and how. Knowing what was essential for each group made it easier for the district to narrow down its choices and eventually select the right product.

Southeast Lauderdale High School also knows the importance of testing different platforms before investing. Once funding for interactive flat panels was in place, several vendors were asked to present on-site solutions to the district in Meridian, Miss. With a hands-on comparison, the team found some systems lacking in reliability, interactivity and integrability, while others clearly demonstrated better functionality, sustainability, and ease of use. By bringing in the new technology to be tested by a variety of stakeholders, the team was able to better find the right solution for their needs.

Once you’ve found the right tech, the real fun begins. Get ready for implementation.

2. Create a plan, and stick to it

Rather than reinvent the wheel, Houston’s Aldine Independent School District turned to other districts’ learnings before committing to their own edtech investment. Administrators involved in upgrading technology attended conferences to see what their peers were doing and what was available in the market. The district also strengthened its network connectivity infrastructure to support the introduction of new technology solutions. And finally, the district updated its curriculum to incorporate the capabilities of its new technology.

All of these updates culminated in a five-year plan that outlined the district’s overall goals, as well as tactical benchmarks to hit along the way. The plan detailed updates to hardware and infrastructure, enabling access to high-quality, interactive digital content and curriculum resources, and providing additional ongoing professional development opportunities for educators.

3. Commit wholeheartedly to professional development

Professional development offers many benefits—an expanded knowledge base, confidence boosts, support for setting and achieving goals, and overall improvement of craft. Unfortunately, findings from the 2019 State of Technology Report indicate that, when it comes to training, technology skills take a back seat to teaching methods.

However, Southeast Lauderdale prioritized technology-based training, which has helped ease the discomfort that some teachers experienced using new tools. Plans to bring tech into the classroom included on-site learning from Promethean coaches, as well as an exchange of teacher tips and tricks on ways to use the new system.

Aldine ISD established district-wide standards for classroom technology that included online training for its teachers while providing them with access to instructional technology specialists to help troubleshoot any issues that occurred. Additionally, the district has avoided using old practices with newer equipment to help drive innovative instruction that fully integrates their new solutions.

Visit Promethean to explore learning solutions for your school or district.

4. Measure success throughout the process

Since implementing Promethean ActivPanels into its classrooms, Spartanburg School District Seven, a small urban district in the heart of upstate South Carolina, has experienced a noticeable improvement in the classrooms. There’s an uptick in collaboration between teachers and students, more sharing of what works among teachers and an increase in student-led learning, which helps boost student morale.

When implementing any new edtech product, administrators should consider collecting testimonials from teachers and students—before, during and after its use—to help measure its success. Identifying quantitative performance metrics is also helpful in gauging the impact of student achievement and engagement. Palmdale School District in Palmdale, Calif., did just that.

In its annual district technology survey, Palmdale administrators found that, after adopting Promethean panels in their classrooms, district-wide student engagement increased an average of 22 percent, with a few sites reporting more than a 40 percent increase. Information like this helps track boosts in classroom performance and allows schools and districts to make a case for continuing to evolve classroom technology in the future.

Don’t go it alone

Educational technology is a huge investment, and with budgets and performance to consider, school districts shouldn’t take implementing new products lightly. Exploring steps that other schools have taken and partnering with the right tech providers will maximize the value of your investment.

Think about evaluating platforms before buying and generating checklists for what you want tech to accomplish; create and stick with a plan for implementation; ensure continual professional development is available, so teachers become more adept at new technology; and continue to measure student and teacher success along the way.

Keeping these four recommendations in mind at all times will ensure that your school or district finds and effectively implements the edtech best suited to your unique learning community.

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