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EdTech – What are the fundamentals of tech success?

April 18, 2021, 13:47 GMT+1
Read in 4 minutes
  • Tristan Kirkpatrick explains the five things learned about successful tech tools in schools during the pandemic...
EdTech – What are the fundamentals of tech success?

The EdTech tools, along with the engine room of servers powering them, have taken a beating over the past months.

Software licencing and cloud-based solutions have rocketed as teachers turned their eyes to creative solutions for remote teaching.

The current offer of EdTech available can seem overwhelming. Still, through knowing the fundamentals of tech success, teachers and leaders can evaluate potential tools for use in their schools with precision.

Plenty of tools stand up to the rigour and scrutiny of school staff, but what do the features they have in common?

Purposeful and practical

The global EdTech industry is on track to grow by two and half times in just the next five years. With plenty of new tech available (and more on the way) to use with students, teachers are right to evaluate why they are using it regularly. Winning EdTech tools mostly do one thing really well. Success relies heavily on the practicality of teachers using it regularly to solve a problem, save time or improve the quality of something.

‘Quizizz’, for example, provides students with a quiz in a range of engaging formats. Teachers can use pre-created banks’ questions, saving precious time for teachers, with instant, rich analytics on student answers.

Platform partnership

The most successful tools easily integrate with an online platform (the dominant platforms on the market are currently Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams). Of course, this relies on schools using an online learning platform, the first step for schools to deliver their curriculum online. If your school does not have a platform yet, you can contact the EdTech Demonstrator Programme and gain expert advice for free.

Tightly integrated tools save time and keep everything in one place for teachers and learners. Tech that offers a ‘Share to Google Classroom’ button, for example, provides resources to students in one button click. Other tools take their integration further, importing class lists and marks automatically to the learning platform.

Utterly usable

We’ve all used software and websites that are simply infuriating to navigate. Tech in schools must ‘just work’ to survive. To stand the test of time, tech must be accessible, learnable and efficient. The most successful of these lean on the prior knowledge of using larger web apps (Facebook, Instagram, Google) to provide a pick-up and go experience. Truly usable tech is the rarest, but considering the competition in the marketplace, it becomes one of the most important aspects of a successful tool.

Cheap and cheering

An unfortunate reality for most schools embarking on their journey into EdTech: successful tech needs to be cheap, or even better, free. Most EdTech tools use a ‘fremium’ model, so you can try the free version, with limited features. If the tool becomes a staple in your classroom, it might be worth considering the ‘pro’ version.

Mote (an excellent feedback tool), for example, offers a fantastic feature set in its free offer. Teachers certainly gain additional features from the ‘essential’ or ‘unlimited’ packages, but the generous free offer is successful for providing students with actionable feedback on their work, the primary function of the app.

All about the analytics

After the flurry of excitement of introducing a new tool to class groups, teachers turn their attention to the tool’s information output. Whilst this may start with curiosity, it quickly becomes essential when the tech embeds within a student’s learning journey.

From the start of the pandemic, schools have demanded more data from top learning platforms to inform timely intervention ‘on the ground’. Successful tech provides teachers with the information they need to gauge understanding, score questions and inform their next teaching.

Tristan Kirkpatrick, director of computer science and EdTech project lead at Outwood Grange Academies Trust.