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Using Data to Drive Equitable Edtech Investments

Collecting and analyzing data at key points to inform edtech selection and procurement processes


As technology’s role in teaching and learning and its share of school and district budgets continue to grow, school and district leaders can leverage data to promote equity through their edtech investments. Below are two opportunities in which leaders can use data to drive more equitable edtech investments before they select and procure new technology.

Opportunity 1: Using Data to Determine Edtech Needs

Edtech selection and procurement begin with a needs assessment process that seeks to elevate challenges and potential solutions. Within any needs assessment process, data is critical. While determining their needs, leaders should strive to organize and make meaning across multiple data points to develop nuanced, holistic understandings of where edtech products support their goals, promote equity and drive student outcomes, and where different or additional investments may be needed. This should include data that helps leaders understand their existing edtech’s impact on their stakeholders (e.g., student demographic data like grade level and race, usage data like time on task, number of minutes used, or number of modules completed, and student outcome data like assessment scores) Data points leaders might consider include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • User Sentiment: Edtech users include teachers, students and their families, and other school or district stakeholders. Their sentiments towards and needs related to technology can be powerful indicators of where edtech investments are promoting equity and where they are falling short. Leaders might use surveys, focus groups, or empathy interviews to gather this data based on their capacity, context, and the group they hope to engage.

  • Existing Tool Usage: To elevate and identify correlations between tool usage and outcomes, leaders must understand when, how, and by whom the edtech tools into which they invest are used. Many edtech tools produce actionable insights about how students and other users interact within their platforms, and third-party tools can be used to capture this information for those that do not.

  • Outcome Data: Leaders should drill down to the individual student or subgroup level to uncover any disparities in outcomes between student groups. Disaggregating data allows leaders to understand the impacts on particular racial, gender, and other socioeconomic status groups whose needs can be elevated and targeted when selecting and procuring new tools.

Additional information on engaging stakeholders in edtech selection processes, determining edtech needs, and evaluating existing edtech tools using data points like usage can be found below.

Opportunity 2: Using Data to Pilot Edtech Products

In an ideal world, edtech pilot programs occur after leaders have determined their edtech needs However, before procuring new edtech products leaders need to understand how potential solutions function across different contexts within their schools or districts. Pilot programs provide data points that leaders can use to ensure their edtech investments promote equity and drive student achievement (e.g., what kinds of supports best promote teacher and student usage of edtech tools, the extent to which students relate to the content delivered by tools). While planning and running and then reflecting on pilot programs, leaders might consider data points including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Perceived Ease of Use: A significant driver of edtech product usage is the extent to which users find it easy to use and navigate. Pilot programs uniquely offer opportunities for leaders to understand how potential solutions are perceived by their stakeholders before committing fully to selecting and procuring a specific tool.

  • Implementation Fidelity: As with any educational tool, the outcomes of piloted edtech tools are driven not just by how well a tool is designed but also by how well it is implemented. By collecting and analyzing data on the extent to which tools were implemented with fidelity across a pilot program, leaders can better understand relationships between potential solutions, their implementation, and outcomes.

  • Outcome Data: Finally, similar to determining edtech needs, leaders should consider how piloted solutions impact students. Again, it is critical to understand not just the overall impacts of piloted programs on students but whether piloted programs impacted different groups in different ways – and if so, how.

Additional information on designing, executing, and understanding the results of pilot programs can be found below.

As investments into edtech grow, school and district leaders are responsible for ensuring these investments are equitable. Data points like those above, and the story they tell together, are powerful tools that should drive decisions at critical points related to edtech investment and procurement.

In addition to the resources above, leaders interested in equity-driven edtech selection, implementation, and evaluation processes should explore The Learning Accelerator (TLA)’s EdTech Systems Guide.

Strategy Resources

Determining Edtech Needs - EdTech System Guide

This three-part process to determine edtech needs was developed as part of The Learning Accelerator... Learn More

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Edtech Evaluation - EdTech Systems Guide

This nine-part edtech evaluation process was developed as part of The Learning Accelerator (TLA)’s partnership... Learn More

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Designing a Pilot Program - EdTech Systems Guide

This section of The Learning Accelerator (TLA)’s EdTech Systems Guide details considerations for designing a... Learn More

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Executing a Pilot Program - EdTech Systems Guide

This section of The Learning Accelerator (TLA)’s EdTech Systems Guide details considerations for conducting a... Learn More

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Reflecting on Your Pilot Program - EdTech Systems Guide

This section of The Learning Accelerator (TLA)’s EdTech Systems Guide details considerations for reflecting on... Learn More

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