4 key funding questions that ed-tech trackers can answer
The massive shift to online and hybrid learning has left some superintendents and administrators asking critical questions such as:
“How engaged are students in the new digital platforms we’ve invested in?”
“Are teachers using these applications and software programs?”
“How can we be transparent with all this information?”
Hybrid learning will likely be a big part of education even after most students return to the classroom. Consequently, superintendents are now using stimulus funds to deploy tools to determine if they are getting a return on investment on digital platforms they’ve implemented during COVID.
One option is CatchOn, a data analytics and application monitoring tool that features a dashboard administrators can use to track how students are using district devices while in-school or at-home.
“Having insight into whatever is happening on district-owned devices has become very revealing to many district leaders,” says Lillian Kellogg, senior vice president at Education Networks of America, a CatchOn’s affiliate. “The important piece is for districts to be able to track engagement because they can’t always take attendance like they use to.”
Here’s a sample of the questions these types of tools can answer:
1. Who’s using what, where and when? CatchOn can generate data on the following levels: by student, course, school and district.
2. Is anybody using those apps we bought? Perhaps a district bought two dozen new learning apps during the transition to online learning. CatchOn can show teachers are actually using hundreds of apps, some district leaders knew nothing about and some that may have security risks.
Education Networks of America has broken down how district leaders can spend stimulus funds: https://www.ena.com/funding-eligibility/
This may open administrators’ eyes to products they hadn’t considered, and allow them to get rid of tools that no one is using, Kellog says.
3. Can we take a more comprehensive approach to online learning? Districts’ heavy use of collaboration tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams comes with tremendous bandwidth demands. A tool such as CatchOn can help administrators make holistic spending plans that account for devices, connectivity and software usage, Kellogg says.
This can be particularly helpful when administrators are tapping multiple funding sources, such as ESSER, the American Rescue Plan and the emergency connectivity fund, she says.
4. How can the district be more transparent with the community? CatchOn data allows leaders to show their communities whether students and teachers are using tools purchased with stimulus funds, says Monica Cougan, the company’s manager for strategic relationships and initiatives.
Administrators can also use CatchOn’s data to report back to state authorities on stimulus fund spending.
“Not only can they track accountability on purchased, but they can also tie it to programs such as Title I,” Cougan says. “You can see where the impact is.”
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