Calling Out Edtech Companies for Buying Their Own Research
Modern schools are growing more accustomed to asking tough questions before they sign up for a major edtech purchase. They want something more than just flashy gimmicks and fun gamification for their students. Administrators and teachers both want to see the hard numbers that prove an edtech program is worth their time and money. In the current market, this information can be difficult to find.
Many edtech companies struggle to see the value in having their products tested by an outside company. Teachers and administrators are often disappointed to see that the research available on a given product comes from the company itself. In essence, they are buying their own results as they cherry-pick which school districts and scores best suit their company’s needs.
Why don’t edtech companies start to produce more reliable methods for demonstrating the efficacy of their product? Schools and teachers would find it helpful when making purchase decisions, but there are a few things holding edtech companies back.
Hiring an Evaluator is Costly
Hiring a professional outside of the company to objectively evaluate the product requires an additional expense. Startups very rarely leave room in their budget to hire someone who can perform a thorough evaluation. Even for those companies that do hire an evaluator to perform research studies, some schools still won’t trust it. These schools reason that the results could be influenced by the edtech company who is funding the research.
Meanwhile, edtech companies must set their product aside while they wait for the research to provide conclusive results. This could take months or years to come back with real answers that can tell how effectively a program works. Every month that an edtech company goes without sales could signal the end of their company as a whole.
Schools Don’t Demand Research
In one shocking survey, it was found that approximately half of all schools don’t demand to see the research. They can be sold on catchy sales pitches, generous discounts, and personal relationships alone. If school officials were more diligent about asking the right questions, edtech companies might be more apt to spend the money for their own research.
Schools must be diligent about paying attention to the results and the demographics of a particular study. Teachers must be educated on what questions they need to ask before committing to a purchase. The edtech program should suit school districts that have a similar student population, student-teacher ratios, and other key statistics. Otherwise, the research may not help you to conclude how beneficial it will be in your school.
We are spending more than $8 billion annually on edtech, but we don’t even know whether our students will benefit from it. It’s time for edtech companies to do better at providing the research necessary for educators to draw their own conclusions about a program. Similarly, it’s up to the school districts to demand to see the facts about how effective a program is. Together, we can revolutionize the edtech industry with independent evaluations of a given program.