Future of Education

A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Vetting Educational Technologies

Educational Technology, or EdTech for short, remains the most indispensable resource for schools as tech is increasingly more prominent in and outside of the classroom.

In the last two years, many students and educators depended on EdTech to facilitate remote learning, and schools are investing in online resources to ensure its systems can support remote learning needs.

Previously, we've explored what you need to consider when planning for new educational technology in your school.

This article uncovers what you need to consider when narrowing down your selection and vetting the EdTech tool that can complement your existing systems.

A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Vetting Educational Technologies

Choosing Your New EdTech Solution

The learning tool must be designed with your students and educators in mind. Here, we want to make sure the software can match the skill level of both the student and educator.

This stage is also a way to ensure that you're getting an EdTech tool that would better the system and not make it (more) complicated for educators (and learners!).

With that, here are some things you can consider when narrowing down and selecting your new class tech :

  1. Consider the typical background of students who will join this online course curriculum. Are they familiar with an online course curriculum approach? How quickly have they adapted to your current EdTech systems?
  2. What about the educators? Is the EdTech tool easy to use and navigate around? Does the new tech need minimal training? Is it easy to use, does it require instructors to manually code instructions?
  3. Find out what popular EdTech methods are used around the course topic and explore what requirements you need from your new tech that will complement your current online learning environment.
  4. Determine if the new EdTech tool can help educators a conducive and streamlined virtual learning environment.
  5. List your limitations. Examples include budget, technical and support skills required to keep the EdTech tool updated and working, and the time needed to implement the new education tech.

Vetting Your New EdTech Solution

If you're vetting a learning tech tool, be attentive to every detail the tech can offer you.

Ultimately, the features and benefits of the new EdTech tool should fall within your institution's overall EdTech strategy.

Here are some other questions to think about:

  1. Will the tool allow educators to use different media types (e.g., video, audio, graphics) to engage students? Will the tool allow you to use third-party resources, or will educators have to create their own?
  2. Will the new EdTech tool complement educators' current teaching style?
  3. Does the EdTech tool have a way of determining whether skill and knowledge have been developed after each learning task?
  4. Is the tool designed to appeal to a diverse range of student learning styles?
  5. Are educators able to opt for various delivery options?
  6. Can it adapt to the different learning paces of different students?
  7. Feedback mechanism. Is there a way for educators to determine if learners have successfully digested the lessons? Will instructors be able to obtain student feedback on the course subject learned?
  8. Does this new EdTech tool overlap with any existing tools the schools already have in place?

Bonus Tip: Propose A Pilot Project!

So, you've settled on a tool. Congratulations!

But before giving the green light to implement the new tech campus-wide, you'd probably want to test the efficacy of the EdTech solution's methodology.

From our experience, we recommend that you select classes of up to 200 students and flip a current traditional course into an online format. Ideally three to six months, the EdTech provider can design a personalised pilot project for you.

This way, you can implement the tool on a small scale to prove the viability of the EdTech solution's learning design.

While piloting the learning software, consider these points:

  1. The time frame for creating the online course curriculum: Can educators create quality materials for their online course experience as per schedule? Is it an uphill task for them, or does the tech make it easier by automating such tasks?
  2. If the knowledge creation is automated, are the materials produced by the software valid and reliable? Does it require you to create materials from scratch or can it gain knowledge from your current teaching material?
  3. What is the emotional feedback given by teachers and students during the pilot period? Are students interested or resistant? Do educators find that they have more time on their hands? Are they able to work more productively and at optimal capacity?
  4. When the student gets the learning material, can they work on these online materials independently? Does the tool require constant guidance from teachers, or is this process automated?
  5. With automation, is the software providing students with accurate feedback and information? Is there a backup system to locate this misinformation so educators can amend it immediately?
  6. Does the software provide improved learning and feedback quality as educators and students use the EdTech?
  7. As the pilot progresses, are the EdTech providers able to grasp the course topic requirements so that the learning software can execute your course successfully?
    Is the tool able to derive or mine data you need to understand its efficacy?
  8. If automation like creating and grading quizzes is available, how effective is it? Is the new tech reliable? Is there content validity?
  9. Is data collection of learning analytics timely and easy to collect?
  10. Evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot. Did it improve students' learning and increase motivation and productivity for both students and teachers?

Bottom line: Any EdTech Innovation Should Work for Your Student, Educator and School.

While there's so much to consider, it is vital to remember that any EdTech solution must first fit three requirements:

  1. Your chosen EdTech solutions should align with the school or institution's long-term EdTech plan.
  2. The solution meets the needs of students and educators.
  3. The tech will still need to fulfil its original purpose for five or more years after the initial investment.

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