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Education Technology Selection Tips

Education Technology applications are available for the classroom number in the thousands. Teachers and administrators look to technology to help with the complex and vital activity of educating children. Yet, how do educators know that the application you are considering will engage children and have the depth and content to use year-after-year?

I’ve been a teacher and an administrator testing and selecting technology for the classroom - and also a product manager lead building software still used by millions of students in classrooms today. With this perspective from both the K12 school side and the education technology side, I’ve created some suggested points to help decision-making for teachers or administrators considering software applications for schools.

  1. Use backward design techniques, and start with the goal in mind. This goal should be deeper than teaching the subject, and really explore important goals or objectives you have in mind. Imagine what success looks like and make that part of your goal. What will children know and understand because of this application? You may want to form a group just to build these goals and objectives. The process may turn up other goals and assumptions and help everyone share their expectations.

  2. Chances are there are several software applications that can achieve the education goals or objectives you are addressing. You may want to take elements from this article, along with information from ISTE’s evaluation tool, and create a rubric to help decide which product is best for you and your classroom and/or school.

  3. Consider where and when the application will be used. Is it during whole class instruction? In small groups? For homework or after school? For a specific project in the classroom or out of the classroom? The application may or may not work in all these modalities so it’s important to know that upfront.

  4. Do you have all the tools to enable this application? If children are to use this software after school, does your school or district provide laptops for home use? If it is to be used for whole class instruction, are you set up to display to the whole class?

  5. How will you or the teacher learn to use this application? This includes not how to set it up, learn its features, learn how to customize for your own class(es.) Will there be a live trainer in person or via video - or - does the company use the “train the trainer” approach where someone at your school or district learns the software and teaches others?

  6. How can you know and explore best practices for this software application? Does the education technology company have a community to join or videos to view or other examples led by teachers who have used the application in the classroom? Is it one-way or two-way - meaning can you interact with these teachers and ask questions?

  7. Can you get a free or limited use version of the software to try out on your own computer and possibly with your own classroom?

  8. Will your school or district allow a pilot with a group of teachers to try it out and share their progress?

  9. What does support look like for the software application? Are teachers allowed to get support or does support have to go through a central school or district process?

  10. Does the software provide individual student use data including time students were on task or other information?

  11. Does the software have a built-in assessment or does it integrate with any assessment already used at your school or district?

  12. How can you involve students in selecting the right software? Students are the largest stakeholder in schools and have great ideas and opinions about what will help them. 

  13. What kind of evaluation will be done on how useful the software has been including any student data either through qualitative or quantitative means? When will the teacher, the school, or the district decide that the goals have been achieved and if you will want to continue using the software?

Most school districts, on average, have hundreds and even over a thousand education technology software products in use at any time. Ensuring that these software products are useful, help students learn and/or help teachers teach is worth doing. Taking a measured reflective approach to choosing software can save time, money and resources and ensure that your good teaching and learning goals are furthered by this software.

About the Author

Pamela Gaudet is a former teacher and director of technology in K12 public, independent and charter schools. After working in schools, she became a product management leader building software for large and small education technology companies including software still used by millions of students. Pamela is the author of two books “1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs That Work” and “Like No Other School Year: COVID, 2020 and the Growth of Online Learning.” Her heart and passion have always been around helping teachers teach and students learn. Pamela consults for schools and education technology companies. Mention this article and connect with Pamela on LinkedIn at 

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1 Comment

The application may or may not operate in all of these modalities, so it's vital to know up front. Is it for homework or after school? Is it for a particular assignment in the classroom or outside of the classroom? geometry dash

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