Educational technology, also known as ed-tech, has increased significantly in both number and quality in recent years. Ed-tech comprises a litany of instructional software designed to help students in the classroom with everything from math and science to reading and writing.
The makers of ed-tech are, naturally, eager to get it into classrooms. Schools too are interested in ed-tech, but many are also hesitant due to concerns about the usefulness of the product, its effectiveness, as well as its functionality. In essence, there is “a prevailing divide between technology developers, who complain about not being able to access schools or break into K-12 markets, and administrators and teachers, who complain that too many of the products and services thrust at them are useless or impractical.”
So how do ed-tech developers who actually do have effective and functional products get these products into schools? And how do schools determine what is right for them in a sea of ed-tech that may or may not be what they're looking for?
There are several answers to this question which are being played out in the educational landscape right now. One option is that schools on an individual basis examine the ed-tech options out there and test them on a trial basis. Using their own metrics (as opposed to the manufacturer's, which may or may not serve the same purpose) schools then determine if trial programs are useful enough to merit large-scale use in curriculum. Engaging and individualized as this process is, it is also time-consuming, and in the end may still be too large of a task for a single school to handle.
Another approach that is being tested is product screening and matching on a larger scale with programs such as LEAP Innovations in Chicago. The new program aims to connect schools with the technology they need by matching it with software it screens from a number of companies that apply to be part of the program. If a software program passes the screening process, it is made available and matched with any schools that requested that kind of software. Read more about getting the right ed-tech into schools at Edweek.org.