Investing in Educational technology can be a minefield for many. How do we ensure our investments return the best value to the organisation by supporting the needs of teachers and students while meeting the expectations of modern parents? This focus on ROI is becoming increasingly critical as budgets become tighter and the technology needs of the classroom expand. The bigger question for many is how do we even best measure the success of the investment?
A key indicator of a successful investment is adoption. This also can be more complex than it first appears. Do we measure adoption by looking at just teachers? Doing so often gives a false indicator as the biggest user of technology in a school is often not the teacher but the students. As classrooms over the past decade have become more student-centered, so has the use of technology. According to the 2017 Australia/New Zealand Library survey, 53% of schools allow personal digital device use at school (BYOD). This includes 39% of schools that “encourage use in and outside of the classroom”
So, how should schools change and support this student-centred approach?
Whatever framework or purchasing system your school uses to select technology, Canvas’ advice is to look beyond the obvious choices. Research is critical and comparisons vital. Our customers often call this approach ‘horizon scanning’ and it involves looking beyond a preferred supplier list. We know that choice empowers the purchaser, and empowered purchases are likely to be good ones.
Prioritise a consultative approach
When price is the primary concern, it’s likely that the technology in a school is being bought by management - not those on the front line of teaching. If technology is imposed from the ‘top down’, adoption is more tricky - teachers remain sceptical and don’t promote the tools in the way that they should.
Our most forward-looking customers give students, teachers and managers a voice in choosing, evaluating and using the technologies - right from the start of the procurement process. That inclusive approach to procurement pays dividends - as Canvas is adopted faster and deeper than any other LMS.
Think students and teachers, not features
For us, it’s key that technology is fully integrated with pedagogy. Digital technologies must not be chosen in response to fads or trends, or because they offer 1,001 new features, but instead they must fundamentally enhance the learning experience. Just as our colleagues in commercial businesses think about ‘customer experience’, we similarly help our customers prioritise ‘learner experience’. It is only when technology is built to fulfil a concrete need, with the needs of the learner front and centre, that it will be successful.
Take a longer term view of cost management
Our customers tell us that it's when they measure ROI, not just cost, that Canvas really stands out. The schools we work with evaluate whether they have achieved significant return on their investment on an ongoing basis - and know that it’s vital that technology works hard. Whether it's measuring adoption rates, tracking innovative uses, reducing teacher workload, or ensuring compliance - initial outlay is just part of the story.
So, we’d caution against those solutions which ‘put a sticking plaster’ on a school’s tech strategy. When considering new outlay we encourage those involved in the process of purchasing to ensure they truly understand the impact of the technologies they are investing in. Taking your strategy beyond each purchase as individual isolated investments and focusing on wider adoption by ALL the stakeholders, both teacher and student, will always result in a successful procurement process.
See how the Canvas LMS can make teaching and learning easier and more effective for your institution at ASBA2017 in Sydney’s International Convention Centre.
Director of K12 Australia/New Zealand Sales, Instructure