There are many factors to consider as you plan a school or district technology budget. Here at ExploreLearning, we’ve simplified the process with a
three-part funding series packed with tips to help streamline funding during this whirlwind time of the school year.
Part one covered
edtech budgeting tips and how to find funds. Today is all about getting the most bang for your buck: how to use those precious funds most effectively. And be sure to check out part three, where we share additional insights about maximizing your edtech investments.
How can I use school funds more effectively?
You’ve identified available funds (a well-deserved reason to celebrate!), but now it’s time to make smart investments. Whether it’s a coffee or a new
math resource, everyone wants the best value for their dollar. How can you use your funds most effectively to impact student achievement? Keep reading for practical things to consider when examining new edtech.
Use your funds on research-driven tools
Once you’ve determined how much you can allocate to new technology, it’s crucial to
choose the right edtech resources for classrooms. How you spend dollars can dramatically influence student learning, so it’s important to select research-based tools with proven results. Here are some questions to consider as you evaluate evidence-based edtech.
History: When was this product established? Does this company have proven results? Do I have colleagues who have used this solution? Have teachers on my campus or in my district ever tried this product with a trial or grant?
ESSA: Does this tool meet Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requirements? If so, which Tiers of Evidence?
Research behind a product: Does research drive this resource? Does the company have a dedicated research team? Are the instructional methods based on best practices regarding student learning and pedagogy?
Research outcomes: What internal and external studies are available to showcase student outcomes as a result of using this product? How recent is the research? What student populations and grade levels participated in the research? How was student achievement impacted, and in what period of time?
ExploreLearning’s K-12 STEM solutions are research-based and have a proven history of significantly impacting learning.
Latest examples of research:
Regardless of fall baseline measurements and across all achievement levels, students who used Reflex (for fact fluency) with fidelity outscored their peers.
ESSA Tier 2 research: Grade 3 and 4 students using Frax (for fractions) were significantly more likely to reach or exceed grade-level proficiency in the spring, regardless of fall achievement levels.
Allocate dollars to edtech that brings lasting results
No one wants a short-term bandage fix. You need technology solutions that will hold up and make a noticeable impact in a short amount of time.
Longevity: Consider tools that have a strong shelf life. For example, while investing in classroom tablets with longer battery power and overall lifespans might be slightly pricier in the short term, this will be a far wiser investment in the long run as you avoid repair and replacement fees for lesser-quality technology.
Adaptive: According to the market research organization Market.us, there will be a continued need for edtech that can “tailor educational content and experiences to individual student needs” to both enhance student engagement and increase learning outcomes. Invest in adaptive edtech that meets students where they are for truly differentiated learning.
Timely: Seek out solutions that have a history of increasing achievement in a relatively short amount of time. Your funds are valuable, and if you can spend them wisely to positively increase achievement in just one school year, that’s an even bigger win. For example, students who used Reflex (for fact fluency) and Frax (for fractions) significantly outperformed non-users when comparing fall and spring assessment data from one school year.
Data-driven: Data informs decisions, so find educational technology that paints a picture with relevant insights. For edtech curriculum and learning tools, find out what data is available to teachers, administrators, and parents. Discover how student growth is measured and reported and how frequently that data is available.
Select technology tools that offer flexibility (and fun)
Examine products that bring your school or district options. Collaborate with your department heads and IT leaders to brainstorm where resources can be shared. This might mean a new set of virtual reality headsets that multiple grade levels utilize or
adaptive math fact fluency practice that can be used in classrooms and for small group interventions.
If you’re considering a new curriculum, investigate the depth and breadth of the program offerings. Explore what grade levels, standards, and content areas are covered. For example, the
Gizmos library includes 500+ math and science simulations aligned to state standards and NGSS for grades 3-12.
And don’t forget about the fun factor! At the end of the day, children (even high schoolers!) will likely be the end users of these new investments, and kids crave interactivity. Turn to
game-based math tools that don’t feel like work. Lean into students’ desire to get hands-on with topics using tools like Gizmos STEM Cases, where students act like STEM professionals to solve real-life problems.
Budget funds for edtech solutions that are easy to implement
After a big purchase, your goal is to have students and teachers utilize the tools as soon as possible. When considering technology options, whether smart boards or
early science curriculum, be sure to understand the level of support available during product onboarding. Here are questions to consider regarding implementation and ongoing usage.
Set-up support: How will my school or district be supported after the immediate purchase? What system requirements are necessary? Will you have a dedicated contact person during implementation?
Professional development: How does the product or curriculum support administrators and teachers? How frequently is PD available, and in what formats? How quickly can teachers start using this purchase in their classrooms? What ongoing learning is available?
Integration: Explore forward-thinking software that can integrate with existing platforms. For example, Gizmos virtual math and science labs come with pre-made student exploration sheets that can be downloaded as Word documents, PDFs, or Google Docs for easy syncing to Google Classroom to save teachers valuable prep time.
Ongoing implementation: Your staffing is constantly changing. Seek out new technology that anyone can easily use, whether they’re a substitute for one class period or a veteran teacher. Explore tools that offer pre-made teacher guides, lesson plans, student resources, and built-in assessments. You want high-quality instruction you can count on regardless of a teacher’s experience level.
The ExploreLearning team is here to help as you finalize budgets this season. Are you interested in learning more about our
K-12 math and science solutions? Our team can answer any questions and walk through product features with you as you consider effective edtech.