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Driving EdTech Systems: Inventory Your EdTech Tools

Root edtech systems improvement in a strong understanding of your edtech portfolio

Overview

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of edtech tools used for teaching and learning, and tracking which of these tools students and teachers use each day has become increasingly difficult. Before leaders can develop or strengthen equitable edtech systems, they must understand which edtech tools are deployed throughout their school or system, who uses these tools, and to what ends. This level of understanding provides critical context that improves leaders’ ability to translate the EdTech Systems Guide – created in partnership between The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Educational Technology (MA DESE OET) – into practice.

Before you Begin: Understanding what we mean by equitable edtech systems.

We believe that unlocking the potential of edtech systems to promote equality requires intentional selection, implementation, and evaluation processes that:

  • Center equity by systematically seeking out and elevating the perspectives and needs of groups positioned furthest from opportunity

  • Support school and system priorities by rooting decisions in a student-centered vision for teaching and learning

  • Strive to improve continuously, recognizing that technology and the needs of the stakeholders who use it are constantly changing

Practices

From in-depth dashboards to high-level spreadsheets, edtech inventories can take many shapes and reflect a vast range of information about your edtech portfolio. Rather than aiming to “boil the ocean” and capture all information about every edtech product deployed throughout your school or system, it's okay to start small, collect only the information needed to address your strategic goals, and add to your edtech inventory over time. To that end, this resource provides an overview of foundational edtech inventorying practices to support users of the EdTech Systems Guide in reflecting on and improving their understanding of the tools deployed throughout their schools or systems.

Inventory with Purpose

To help you determine what information you should capture in your edtech inventory, ask yourself: What am I trying to learn, accomplish, or support with this information? Your answer should be informed by your edtech practices self-assessment, your school or system priorities, and the urgent challenges in your context. Below are two examples of how your strategic goal might inform the design of your inventory:

Example Strategic GoalQuestions Your Inventory Should Answer
Improve student outcomes in a specific grade level or content areaWho is using these edtech tools? How? What are the student-level outcomes related to these tools? Are there pockets or subgroups of students and teachers using these tools more frequently or with greater fidelity? What additional information might help explain why these disparities are occurring?
Improve teacher-facing support resources for a targeted list of edtech toolsWho is using these tools, in what ways, and with which students? What challenges do they encounter? What support resources exist for these tools? How are they accessing support for these tools currently?
Streamline financial commitments by eliminating duplicative licenses for tools that offer similar functionalitiesWhat tools does the district pay to use? Who is paying for these licenses (e.g., schools, system-level offices), and how much are they paying? What functionalities do these tools offer, and are there other tools we pay for or access for free that offer similar functionalities? What are the student-level outcomes related to each tool? Are some tools performing better than others? What additional information might help explain why these disparities are occurring?


Leverage Multiple Data Sources

Regardless of the purpose of your edtech inventory, building it will require you to collect and organize data from multiple sources. Consider your access to each of the following sources and the kinds of information they might provide to help you answer your strategic questions:

  • School or System Contracts: This information may be available through your school or system’s business or finance office, and can help you understand your financial commitment to edtech tools, who oversees your school or system’s relationship with vendors, and who maintains or owns the tool within your organizational structure.

  • Data Dashboards and Third-Party Applications: You may have access to dashboards within tools or third-party applications, like Lightspeed, that aggregate information about edtech tool usage or student-level outcomes related to specific edtech tools.

  • Stakeholders: Surveys and focus groups can provide valuable information about the edtech tools deployed throughout your school or system, like perception (i.e., do the users of tools enjoy using them) and information about the practices or conditions that influence how tools are used (e.g., what instructional practices teachers use to support the use of tools).

Share Your Inventory

In addition to capturing the information you need to inform your edtech systems improvements, you should consider how to make this information visible and usable for your stakeholders. Depending on your goals or purpose, you might build and share your edtech inventory with relevant stakeholders (e.g., systems-level department leaders, instructional technology specialists) using this template spreadsheet or using tools like Airtable.

Take It Further

Conducting an edtech inventory also allows you to go beyond understanding simply which tools are being used. Leaders should also focus on the quality of these tools and their ability to support powerful student-centered instruction. To learn more about evaluating the quality of the edtech tools you capture in your inventory, explore this Insight by TLA.

This strategy is a part of TLA's Driving EdTech Systems series, which accompanies the EdTech Systems Guide developed in partnership with MA DESE OET. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.


Strategy Resources


Chicopee’s Edtech Tool Gallery

Chicopee Public Schools developed an edtech tool gallery using Airtable. The visual gallery displays all... Learn More

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Self-Assessment: Equitable EdTech Systems

This self-assessment mirrors the structure of the EdTech Systems Guide: Equity-Driven Selection, Implementation, and Evaluation... Learn More