The past year has been filled with events that no one could have ever anticipated. For those in the education industry, things have been tough to hand
The past year has been filled with events that no one could have ever anticipated. For those in the education industry, things have been tough to handle with many schools and universities forced to close their doors in the lead-up to summer. While many believe that in-person learning is key and the majority of schools are open again, we must be prepared for any future closures.
With more requirements for online learning this year than ever before, EdTech has never been more important. But how do school leaders choose the right tech or software for the students? The answer isn’t just the lowest cost option, there are many more thing to be considered. Below, we look at why it’s not just about the cost for most leaders buying EdTech products.
Importance of Cost
Before we look at why investing in EdTech isn’t just about cost, we must first consider the importance of the price. While cost isn’t the only factor, it is one that needs to be considered as not all schools have the budget to pay for expensive technology. In fact, two thirds of schools in England were forced to seek emergency financial support as a result of the pandemic. Even with any additional funding or reallocation of the budget, managing additional costs can be difficult.
If a product is too expensive, it could be totally overlooked by those on the hunt for new technology. The budget is set out carefully and there are so many things that must be covered by this. Unless a school board believes a particular kind of EdTech solution can benefit students and create a positive change, they might not be willing to take another look at the budget. School budgets should not be ignored when products are priced by manufacturers.
Not all students require the same level of support with some SEND students requiring additional assistance. If a new piece of software does not provide the services and support required for these students to have a good experience whilst learning, it is really no use. Accessibility is key when choosing EdTech and many leaders tend to look for this.
Examples of accessible software could involve tools for those with sight issues or special educational needs and disabilities.. These students should not be overlooked and might require some additional face-to-face time. Teachers care about their students and so won’t be satisfied if they cannot do their job effectively.
EdTech made by experts
Often, the best products are created by those who have been in the position of the customers. So, leaders might look for EdTech products that have been developed by those who have experience in the classroom or are involved in supporting school leadership, as Trustees or school governors. This isn’t always immediately obvious but if you look into a company, you’ll usually be able to learn more about the founders and if education is at their heart.
A good example of this would be AI Kingsley who is both head of an EdTech firm but is also an industry expert and commentator. With his combined educational and tech background, he is able to support EdTech creators and ensure every factor is considered. As Chair of Cambridgeshire SEND Board and Chair of 2 Multi Academy trusts, AI Kingsley has a wealth of experience that proves valuable in this case. Sometimes, it can be clear that manufacturers don’t always understand the requirements that students have.
Student privacy is a clear concern for many leaders considering an investment in EdTech. When you consider the long list of data privacy laws and the vulnerability of children, this needs to be addressed. A lot of EdTech systems are based in the cloud and so data is being transferred back and forth. This data can include anything from images of children captured during videoconferencing to medical data from temperature checks. Not only is protecting the privacy of students the right thing to do but it is also the law. For this reason, leaders will look at any privacy issues when choosing EdTech for their schools. Otherwise, they could face further issues down the line.
Understanding Teachers Requirements
Teachers aren’t always the decision-makers when it comes to purchasing software for the school but they should certainly be consulted. There is merit in having school governors take an active role in purchasing this kind of equipment due to their commercial knowledge. However, teachers are on the frontlines and so their opinion is valid.
Getting feedback from teachers and their students on EdTech tools already in place can help to make the decision a bit easier. Teachers can also provide insights into how they think a new tool might work for them. If they have their doubts, it might be useful to consider a few more options before making that final decision in the end. In this case, it would be about features and suitability for leaders rather than cost.
Alignment with goals across all subjects
Finally, it is important to note that many leaders not only need to look for EdTech that is suitable for one particular task but they must also consider all subjects within their school or educational facility. If they can find something that works across multiple subjects, it can be a more worthwhile investment. However, the school curriculum is so varied that this can be hard to achieve. This can often depend on the kind of tool that is being discussed as some are much more task focused than others.
For this reason, EdTech companies must ensure complete compatibility in what they are creating. It can be hard for leaders to influence decisions when a tool only functions for one task and is outside of the school budget. Those who can provide tools that offer alignment with multiple goals across various classes might be more likely to make a sale.
Does One Size Fit All?
If a product claims to be suitable for all kinds of purposes, it probably isn’t. One size rarely fits all, especially when you are referring to a classroom full of children with different abilities. For this reason, leaders might look for a customisable product rather than one that offers a blanket approach. Teachers must be able to use a platform to suit the needs of their students and any issues that they might face.
Customisation is key and a cheaper product might not offer this level of discretion. Leaders don’t just look at the overall cost, they look at how they can mould a product to suit their classes and individual students.
There are so many factors to be considered when choosing EdTech software and the overall cost is just a small part of this. Yes, leaders must fall in line with budget requirements when making the final decision but they will typically do what is best for their students and teachers in any way that they can.
Some of the main concerns for educators include the privacy elements, alignment with learning objectives that are currently in place and the flexibility of the solution. If a piece of software or a tool doesn’t meet these requirements, it should be discounted. This is something that must be considered by those involved in creating education solutions.