You may have the most exciting ed tech program ready to go in your district. Perhaps you’ve finally gotten the green-light on incorporating a new ed tech tool into your classroom. Either way, it’s one thing to have a new initiative. It’s another thing entirely to have it be effective.
How do you measure the success rate of your ed tech? What goes in to building a plan, launching a program, managing tools and devices?
These are all essential questions every educator—whether a teacher, administrator, or director—should take into consideration when it comes time to put your tools and programs to good use.
Three Critical Questions
Effective ed tech, of course, starts not with the device or program itself but with effective teachers and administrators. It is important to not underestimate the power of how teaching can transform lives inside (and outside) the classroom.
“Make no mistake, when you are measuring student outcomes, you are in fact evaluating the teaching,” writes Darryl Joyner, the instructional technology integration analyst for Arlington Public Schools in Virginia in a piece for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
Yes, tools are important. But Joyner stresses a shift in how we think about the link between instructional tools and the outcomes they can provide. His suggestion for educational administrators and teachers? Always ask yourself three key questions about the tool or program you’ve put into effect.
- To what degree is its design/implementation meeting the needs of students?
- To what degree can students have a choice in deciding their own learning paths?
- To what degree can students leverage their strengths in demonstrating understanding?
Four Essential Metrics
Preparation is everything. You’ve answered the above three questions and are ready to go.
But, before you set out to measure the effectiveness of your ed tech program or tool, you have to know what it is, exactly, you want to measure. What metrics will signal success? What’s your threshold for failure? What results do the key decision makers in your school or district want to see?
Over at The Tech Edvocate, writer Matthew Lynch suggests four metrics to focus on.
- Measure Outcomes. Don’t measure a one-size-fits-all outcome. Instead, break outcomes into short-term results (i.e. new learning opportunities), medium-term results (i.e. cultural changes), and long-term results (i.e. overall student achievement).
- Measure Feedback. Whether it comes from parents, teachers, or the students themselves, hearing what people have to say is a vital part of the entire endeavor. Think of particular questions that can aid in soliciting useful, specific feedback.
- Measure Teacher Approval. Teachers—especially satisfied teachers—are on the front lines of most programs and tools. As Lynch notes, “their opinions should be strongly considered when measuring the success of digital learning products.”
- Measure Ease of Use. Is the tool you’re introducing easy for students and teachers to use in everyday classroom situations? Does a new program ask too much of educators’ time? Are there technical bugs to exterminate? Ease of use is a great marker of success.
How to Manage Your Mobile Devices
Technology has brought the classroom into the modern age—but with the growing influx of devices and programs in K-12 schools across the country, how is everything managed?
In a story on what to consider when buying classroom technology, EdTech Magazine calls attention to interoperability, student data privacy, and protection.
“With the ever-expanding role of technology in classrooms,” writes Katelyn Sweeney, “schools must ensure the security and efficiency of data through enhanced interoperability. The infrastructure needs to handle massive amounts of information, run efficiently and protect student privacy.”
Device management—and easy device management at that—is a critical part of ed tech effectiveness.
The Kajeet report, “Managing Student Devices in K-12,” offers best practices, tips on grading the impact of devices, and more. These include:
- Managing all your devices from a single platform to create a one-stop shop for your IT teams.
- Keeping students safe and on-task with a centralized platform that blocks specific websites and sets keyword filters.
- Increasing device accountability with geolocation services that can monitor your expensive school-owned devices.
- Reporting on program effectiveness to get a clear picture of how your students used devices for educational purposes.
If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for a weekly Wednesday webinar that provides an overview of the Kajeet MDM solution.
Outcomes for Student Success
Ed tech tools and programs go beyond just making a smart purchase. They require consistent measuring to ensure they’re the most effective solution for your students’ learning needs.
And what matters most for student success? Outcomes.
As a Forbes article writes, “Whether one cares most about social mobility that drives economic competitiveness; serving special needs and gifted students; improving infrastructure; or closing the achievement gap, the only metric we should use to evaluate the role of technology in public education is the success of our students.”
A simple web search for effective ed tech outcomes brings up a host of inspiring and empowering stories in school districts, including improved bus behavior in Missouri’s Raytown School District thanks to digital connectivity, and the deployment of Wi-Fi hotspot devices in Missouri’s largerst school district.
And don’t forget to spread the word about your success. Over at eSchool News, Miguel Guheln notes several ways for educators and administrators to promote and share their successful outcomes, including the creation of posters and infographics, and the creation of digital badge programs.
So remember: When it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of your latest program, tool, or initiative, always measure, always manage, and always share.