EdSurge Guide

The EdSurge Guide to Choosing, Vetting and Purchasing K-12 Edtech Products

The EdSurge Guide to Choosing, Vetting and Purchasing K-12 Edtech Products

"Procurement" sends chills down many spines because all too often the process of finding and buying technology, curriculum and other resources has become laborious and confusing. Particularly over the last five years, the job has gotten tougher for people running schools—from teachers to principals to chief academic officers, district leaders and even the school boards—as they contemplate the arrival of an onslaught of what look like promising but at times complex edtech products.

That process, reports James Madison University professor David Slykhuis, is challenging, especially when it pushes educators to worry more about "keeping up with the Joneses" than figuring out what students really need.

"Sometimes, we get lost in the weeds of what product will meet the 'Request for Proposal' and how can we get the most devices for our dollar," says Slykhuis, who is also President of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. "But the real intended outcome should be to improve student learning."

No educator should have to go through the procurement process alone. So, EdSurge has compiled this collection of articles about choosing, vetting, and purchasing edtech products, along with a shortlist of eight resources to help along the way. In this guide, you'll find articles on:

We expect there are more efforts in the works. (Got some great pointers? Please add them in the comments section below or drop us a note here.) We'll keep updating this guide in the months ahead.

And if you're curious to learn what other schools and districts are looking for, take a look below for some data on the biggest edtech needs.

Happy hunting!

Figuring Out What You Need

EdSurge has a collection of resources and templates to help schools and districts increase their success in assessing the needs they should fill. It's called the Edtech Selection Playbook, and you can download it below!

Download PDF

It's easy to get distracted by what fellow educators down the street are using, or to be swayed by how frequently tools get mentioned in the media. Instead, the starting point should always be: What will work best for you, your students and the other adults on your campus?

The selections below dive into the specifics of why we tend to choose certain tools, as well as key methods to follow when assessing the gaps that need to be filled.

Choosing and Vetting Products

There's no shortage of edtech tools out there—in fact, the EdSurge Index lists more than 2,200 products and the collection continues to grow. How do you begin to choose what works best for you and your students? Below are a few articles that touch on key questions that other educators use when choosing edtech tools.

So You’re Ready to Buy and Implement…

Already have an idea of what tools you'd like to use during the next school year? Not so fast—have you thought through the implementation process? How about how you'll evaluate the tools as you use them? Will you run a pilot first? Here are insights from others' experiences.

The Shortlist: Eight Resources to Help You Ease the Procurement Process

Here are a handful of procurement resources to get you started. Are you using another tool or approach? Please share it! Drop your pointers in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Provider Resource(s) Details
Balefire Labs
Balefire Labs App Reviews
Free. Reviews of educational apps and games.
Common Sense Education Teacher reviews on edtech tools and privacy evaluations of edtech tools Free. Privacy reviews include scores on "security" and "compliance."
EdSurge Concierge and Edtech Selection Playbook Free. Helps school leaders identify edtech tools that fit their needs.
Digital Promise DP's Edtech Pilot Framework; its Research map and top examples of edtech research Free. Aggregates information on research findings available on edtech tools.
Learn Platform Learn Trials Helps schools manage their teachers’ evaluations of the edtech tools that they use.
Mathematica and the U.S. Department of Education
Edtech Rapid Cycle Evaluation (RCE) Coach
Free. Online, openly-licensed platform that takes districts and schools through the process of evaluating and choosing tools.
Noodle Markets
Noodle Markets Free. Building a platform for buying anything in a school, including edtech products.
Technology for Education Consortium (TEC) Report on Edtech Funding Under ESSA 2016
TEC also compiles pricing information on edtech tools; more info about that here.

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