Is now a good time for a pilot program?

Five tips for K-12 district leaders to consider as nonprofits and for-profits offer free access to ed tech resources during school closures
By: | April 6, 2020
(Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)(Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)
Ann McMullan is an education consultant based in Los Angeles and an FETC featured speaker.

Ann McMullan is an education consultant based in Los Angeles and a featured speaker for FETC.

As we all learn to navigate teaching and learning in our new global reality, many are discovering new opportunities in the midst of the current challenges associated with COVID-19. One area that has grown in strength over the past weeks is the offering of free subscriptions to online learning tools from both for-profit companies and nonprofit associations that previously required a fee to access their products.


Read: Updated: 105 free K-12 resources during coronavirus pandemic


Now might be the perfect time for your school or district to implement a modified pilot program as a way to try one or two resources that previously charged a fee, but are now available at no cost. Here are five considerations for K-12 district leaders to keep in mind when planning a pilot program launch.

  1. Make your pilot program voluntary for teachers. Find out who might be interested in participating. If the content relates to their subject matter and if they and their students have the online access needed to use the program effectively, there will be a good fit.
  2. Be sure that the teachers you select to participate in the pilot have experience in successfully leveraging tech tools to maximize learning for their students.
  3. Set a time period for collecting information and feedback from teachers—and, perhaps, students—about the online resource they are using in the pilot.
  4. Check the privacy settings for the online program you choose to pilot. This will ensure that everything is in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act; Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act; and any other national, state, or local laws or policies regarding student data privacy and cybersecurity.
  5. Advise your teachers on how to best notify their students’ parents about the pilot. They should understand that students are trying out a new online resource and how that resource supports the learning goals for their curriculum and grade level.

Now might be the perfect time for your school or district to implement a modified pilot program as a way to try one or two resources that previously charged a fee, but are now available at no cost.

I have created a webpage to share information about free remote learning resources that could be used in a pilot. It is my intent to keep the list of resources brief for parents, teachers and school leaders. Here are a two examples of nonprofit associations that I include:

  • JASON Learning is offering free online access to its digital platform and STEM curricula and learning experiences for K-12 students, as well as high-quality professional development for teachers.

Read: 4 ways district CTOs can support educators during school closures


  • PowerMyLearning’s Triangle (connecting students, teachers and families) is at the core of the resources and services it provides. Family learning playlists are created to ensure that teachers and families work together as a team, students are empowered to learn, and students’ families function as active learning partners.

Ann McMullan is an education consultant based in Los Angeles and a featured speaker for FETC®. She is the former executive director for educational technology at the Klein Independent School District, which is located just outside Houston and serves over 50,000 students.


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.


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