Educational Technology: Not Just Buying Shiny Things

This blog is written from my experience as Computing coordinator for a special school. I love technology but I have overcome my youthful exuberance, the spike of excitement at seeing the latest shiny gadget. I say overcome but I think in some ways it is more like a stand off. On one side the fantastic shiny tech and the sales team, and advertising. On the other stands me, backed up loyally by the finance department.

Educational Technology: An Investment In Learning

As a teacher you cannot simply buy a piece of technology, nor is it just a financial investment. Behind every purchase there should be a process. as with anything in education us teachers are expected to be experts at this process. Some companies have whole departments responsible for acquiring resources, and I bet they make mistakes. However our mistakes may have big implications across limited school budgets. Technology is expensive, granted one kindle is exceptional value. But to resource a class of 30 let alone a whole school is a monumental task, with associated risks. Here are 5 points to consider before investing.

The effect of Bad Technology on Education edtech problems meme

10 things to consider before investing in EDTECH

When it comes to the educational technology procurement process for your school, there are several key factors that you should take into consideration. Not only will these factors help provide a smooth and efficient purchasing experience, but they will also ensure that you are making the right decisions for your students and teaching staff. Let’s dive deeper into some of these important considerations.

  1. Identify your goals: Before starting the procurement process, it is crucial to clearly define your objectives. What are the specific goals you wish to achieve through the implementation of educational technology? Whether it’s enhancing student engagement, promoting personalised learning, or improving administrative efficiency, having a well-defined set of goals will guide your decision-making process.
  2. Assess your needs: Conduct a thorough assessment of your school’s needs and requirements. Consider factors such as the size of your student population, the age range of your students, subject areas, and any specific challenges faced by your educators. This will help you narrow down the options and select the most suitable educational technology solutions.
  3. Research and evaluate vendors: Take the time to research and evaluate different vendors in the educational technology market. Look for reputable companies with a solid track record in providing reliable and effective solutions. Consider factors such as product features, pricing, customer reviews, and customer support services. It is recommended to request demos or trials to get a better understanding of how the solutions work in real-world scenarios.
  4. Consider scalability and interoperability: As your school grows and evolves, it is important to choose technology solutions that can scale with your needs. Ensure that the products you select have the flexibility to adapt to future changes and seamlessly integrate with existing systems or platforms. Compatibility and interoperability between different tools can greatly enhance efficiency and streamline workflows.
  5. Prioritise data privacy and security: When dealing with educational technology, data privacy (GDPR) and security are paramount. Ensure that any solutions you consider comply with relevant data protection regulations and provide robust security measures. Look for features such as encryption, secure cloud storage, and data access controls to safeguard sensitive student and staff information.
  6. Seek input from stakeholders: Involve key stakeholders in the decision-making process. This includes teachers, administrators, IT staff, and even students. Their input and feedback can provide valuable insights and help identify potential issues or requirements you might have overlooked.
  7. The Golden rule, if you stop reading after this point fair enough but take heed! Do not buy anything without having identified exactly how you will implement this into your curriculum. This should not just be the computing curriculum either. Ask your teachers how would technology support learning in your topics this year? or even how will technology improve learning in your classroom?
  8. iPads are the tablet of choice for most schools but why are we choosing this over a android tablet at probably half the price? It is my opinion that iPads are the easiest tablet to pick up and use. This is great for SEN, the guided access option is brilliant as a starting point to focus students on the app you want to use that lesson. iOS is also familiar to many staff with iPhones so no steep learning curve. However I love the ease of management our new Android Learnpads bring.
  9. Make sure you have time allocated to training. A short presentation is not enough. Staff need to be confident using the technology,  unless very passionate about technology teachers cannot afford to invest hours learning how to use a device. Play time is essential and modelling use day to day helps.
  10. Reliability is essential. Both the educational technology and the infrastructure must work when required. That means strong wi-fi everywhere. It also means someone must be responsible to overseeing management on a daily basis. Ensuring all devices are returned or charged at the end of the day. It will only take a couple of knocks to confidence to see technology relegated to the cupboard.
  11. Do not expect technology to solve your problems. Technology alone will not improve quality of teaching and learning. It will not improve attainment or engagement in lessons without staff who are confident & capable of using it effectively.

As long as you purchase with your eyes open, the correct infrastructure in place and a willingness to invest time after purchase technology will motivate, engage and expand opportunities for your students.

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