How to Decide if an Edtech Product is Worth Using
The Edtech industry is booming, and while this is good for a sector that promises to make everyone smarter, it can be overwhelming for teachers and schools. With the numerous choices on offer and constant innovation, it can be difficult to know what is trendy and what is worth bringing into the classroom. Not only is making a decision difficult but teachers are also met with the growing pressure to improve their teaching practices and engage with students who live more than ever in the virtual world. So, how do you know if an Edtech product is worth using? Below are some factors that are important to look at before buying and investing effort into an Edtech product.
Goals and Objectives
Lesson plans and objectives are important aspects of teaching. The same is true when deciding if an Edtech product is worth bringing into the classroom. Edtech should never overshadow the goals of a lesson but rather act as a complimentary tool to the learning outcomes. Educators should take the time to assess why the Edtech could be beneficial and how it can close the gaps that may exist in their teaching practices. By identifying features of a certain product (e.g. collecting homework assignments online, furthering research or creating a virtual comic book inspired by Hamlet), teachers can make an informed decision about a certain product and its necessity. There needs to be a strong reason as to WHY the product should be used. Some tools make teachers’ lives simpler, but the same questions should be asked here. Why does the teacher or administration need this?
By pinpointing the reason to use a particular Edtech product, educators can be assured that the product they choose will fit their personal needs.
Connectivity and Accessibility
While some high schools can hand out iPads to every student, the global reality is not the case. Students have varying levels of computer literacy and if teachers are to truly test the worth of an Edtech product it needs to be utilized correctly. Knowing the devices that students own, their internet accessibility and how they interact with the online world is beneficial in picking the right EdTech product. This can easily be done by a show of hands or a survey at the beginning of a school year. The US Department of Education is also an excellent source to find statistics on public school’s technology usage. If educators understand their student’s technology culture, they can judge if the introduction of a certain product will be worthwhile. Edtech products should morph into what students and teachers need, not the other way around.
Edtech companies are not always straightforward with their pricing. Some offer a price per student, per package, yearly or on a subscription basis. This can be difficult to navigate, and more expensive products do not always equate to “best on the market.” Educators fall into the trap of thinking the product must worth it because it is expensive. For many individuals as well as schools the price of an Edtech products limits the choices on offer. By understanding the different pricing options, educators can make sure that they get their monies worth from an Edtech product.
Product Success and Reviews
By looking at what other educators have to say about an Edtech product you can gain a better understanding as to how the product could be used in other environments. These reviews are also fundamental in discerning what products are too complicated to use, lack a friendly interface or cost too much. Educators’ thoughts play a pivotal role in the success or failure of an Edtech product. Reading and doing homework into products this way ensures that teachers can pick out products and hope for similar results.
Overall, Edtech should never be used for the sake of it. It needs to benefit its users, be financially viable and fit into the tech culture that currently exists. Naturally, innovation and computer literacy should be pushed, but for a product to prove its worth, it must be the right product at the right time. After all, Edtech products may be booming, but if brains are not growing, there is no worth at all.