If we marry Educational Technology with quality, enriching content, that’s a circle of win- Levar Burton
Educational technology is “the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources”. They need to actually serve a purpose and address a need that can’t be fulfilled by existing solutions. Plus, not all education technology holds water and schools are not exactly known to have the deepest pockets. We owe it to our students, teachers, and parents to invest funds wisely. So here are some tips to ask yourself before investing in the latest education technology product taking the learning world to the next level:
Tip 1: Does this product address my need, and what is my intended use?
Every product should be able to address a daunting need. As an investor, you need to know what that product tends to solve. Do your research (read: internet sleuthing) and ensure the product you are purchasing actually addresses your need. There really is no need to buy expensive stylus pen for your fine-art class when cheap easels from the local art store will do. They’ll all end up being used as means to an end.
Tip 2: What is the research going into the product development?
Education technology products must be built in consultation with the target group they are ultimately serving – students, teachers or administrators. The product might be built by the best technologists in the world, but the people who understand the issues that need addressing must define the purpose of the product. Checking on the research and thinking behind product development will help predict how effective it will be in the classroom.
Tip 3: Will I need to purchase anchor products to use this one?
No one intends to join a recursive trend when they purchase a product, but sometimes it just happens. Buying an education technology product from a particular brand should not entail the purchase of all their other modules/products. Investing in one item is expensive enough for a school (most are perennially suffering from a budget crunch and hardly have money to throw around). If the product you intend to purchase requires you to buy additional add-ons to really be able to use it, consider alternatives.
Tip 4: How sustainable is the product?
A temporary problem requires a temporary solution, not spending on an expensive piece of education technology. Your purchase must address an issue or make life easier or more efficient for the foreseeable future. Yes, technology becomes obsolete with time, but the end should not already be near. A product purchase is only worth it when you reap benefits over a long period of time.
Tip 5: What is the post-purchase support provided?
Great, you found your dream product. You’ve answered all the questions above the way they should have been answered, and are ready to buy and start immediately. But what about using it? Is the product easy to use? Is comprehensive training provided? Is there customer service responsive? Is there a user guide? Are there video tutorials for the product? These are not necessities for every piece of education technology being purchased, but they certainly make for some great perks and might tilt the scales in favour of one product over the other.
Tip 6: How secure is my data?
Education technology, from its very inception, deals with sensitive data. Whether this is student scores, parents’ financial records for parents, or teacher contact information, you must be confident that this data is being stored securely. Vulnerable data being leaked could spell disaster in terms of security as well as institutional reputability.