10 ways to ensure success when buying tech for K-12 schools

With a strategic approach, you can successfully navigate the often complicated process of acquiring new tools for your school.
By: | January 19, 2022
(AdobeStock)(AdobeStock)
Vincent Routhier is CEO of Lü Interactive Playground.

Vincent Routhier is CEO of Lü Interactive Playground.

Recent years have seen a rapid growth in the adoption of educational technology for K-12 schools. In 2020, the North American ed tech and smart classroom market was estimated at $36 billion. Now the Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of technology across the K-12 segment.

For educators, acquiring novel technologies provides exciting new opportunities to enhance students’ education. But choosing the right tools can be fraught with challenges. For many schools, it means using a limited budget to choose from an infinite array of products, while balancing the needs of different stakeholders in an environment of information overload.

To make a successful technology investment, it is essential to tune out the noise and follow a deliberate plan. From investigation through implementation, here are ten ways to strategically choose the best tools for your school:

  1. Start from first principles. Before thinking about products, consider your goals and values. Why are you looking to buy new technology? What technology gaps are most problematic for your school? What professional and pedagogical values should drive your decision?
  2. Involve key stakeholders: Technology acquisition is a group activity. Rather than delegate the decision to a single department, invite input from teachers, IT people and others who can bring different perspectives and who will be called on to implement the new tools.
  3. Choose substance over style: Look for tech that has the qualities, and the level of quality, that works for you. Don’t be driven by marketing and trends; the product that best suits your school’s unique needs may not be flashy or fashionable.
  4. Think long-term outcomes: Consider how your school’s needs will evolve over time. Once you settle on a solution, your colleagues and students will have to live with it for years. The bigger the purchase, the longer it needs to last.
  5. Prioritize student engagement: Choose tech that will increase your students’ attention, interest and inspiration. Technology that engages students will increase their motivation and enhance their progress.
  6. Adopt a whole-child perspective: Seek out solutions that engage all aspects of students’ personal development. While academic performance is an essential metric, aim for outcomes that will benefit students physically, intellectually and socially-emotionally.
  7. Factor in diversity and equity: Think about how your technology purchase will help your entire student body. Students of different ages, backgrounds and abilities will engage with technology in different and surprising ways.
  8. Remember safety and security: Vet every new technology’s safety and security profile in order to minimize the risk of physical injuries, malware and other potential dangers.
  9. Train your professionals: Once you purchase a new technology, maximize its utility by ensuring that every professional who engages with it is adequately trained in its use. If relevant, factor training into the total cost of your technology acquisition.
  10. Celebrate your victory! You’ve made an important acquisition. Trumpet your accomplishment and let people know how it benefits your students. Use your school newsletter, parent-teacher meetings and other opportunities to share the good news with the entire school community. In the case of major acquisitions, consider informing the media as well.

Vincent Routhier is CEO of Lü Interactive Playground, which creates interactive audiovisual systems that combine academics with physical activity for K-12 students. He can be reached at vincent@play-lu.com.

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