Take Control of EdTech Webinar Recording


Edtech use has sprawled in recent years. With ESSER funds expiring in September 2024, administrators need to take stock of what’s being used and what's making an impact, so they can make smart choices about technology investments.

Video Transcript
My name is Steven Noonu. I'm a journalist, an education journalist at Egetopia. I'm a contributing editor, and I also write for other publications. We have a really great Trio of panelists here to talk about EdTech ecosystems and the Esther Funding cliff, including Casey Rimmer, She's the executive director of curriculum and instruction for Union County Public Schools in North Carolina. We have Tal Havivi, the Managing Director of R and D at Iste and Melissa Label, who is the chief academic officer at Instructure. So the first thing I want to talk about a little bit about is that EDTech use is really sprawled in recent years.

It has, with the Srefunds expiring in September of twenty twenty four, administrators are really going to need to start thinking strategically about how to use their ed tech and and making some hard decisions. So one of the biggest questions that we got was how many ed tech tools are being used. And according to last year's EdTech forty report published by Instructure, districts are using an average of nearly twenty six hundred ed tech tools annually. That is a ton of ed tech. And as leaders look at these big numbers, many are wondering just how they move from the emergent purchasing decisions of the pandemic to something a little bit more thoughtful.

A a refinement of their teach digital ecosystems. And the need for this is being recognized. The most recent twenty twenty four national ed tech plan calls out the importance of careful vetting and implementation to close digital learning divides. So with that in mind, we're gonna dive into some of these topics and then we're gonna give you a chance to ask some questions using the Q and A function at the bottom of your screen. So if you have any good questions while we're doing the webinar, I really encourage you to put those in the Q and A, and we will get to them at the end.

So I I wanna start this conversation, by talking a little bit about what an effective ed tech ecosystem actually looks like. And, that that can that can look, that can look like a lot of different things, but I I want to start, by asking you, Tau, whether you know, from the macro level, do educators really know what tools are available to them and do district leaders know what's what's being used? Yeah. Thanks for the question. So, let me just take a step back. And I think, like, okay.

Today is February twenty eighth twenty twenty four. Almost four years to the date, is when schools shut down. Right? Four years minus three weeks or something. And if we just, like, go back to that time, awful time, there was an influx event tech. Right? There was even before COVID funding flowed in, a lot of ed tech providers were saying, hey, we're just gonna offer our products to you for free.

And school districts reacted very differently to that. Some school districts who already had strong at Tech ecosystem said we have our plan, we have our strategy. We're just going to continue remote. And others said, we don't have a plan yet. We are totally not expecting a pandemic to happen, and we're just gonna take whatever we can find and use.

And as a result, there's a lot of different attack that was that's been accumulated into EdTech ecosystems, in this period where we went from fully remote to hybrid to back to in person And we're at this point now where, as Steven mentioned, there's sort of this, quote, unquote, like, strategic calling that is happening as ESR Funding is ending, school districts are really having to take a hard look at what are the critical parts of this ecosystem And the way that's in which they're doing so, vary, one of those ways of evaluating what good ed tech means is from purely an IT perspective, right, a student data privacy perspective and an interoperability perspective. Those are really important to make sure that they're deployed appropriately within a school district. There are other perspectives too, those around, diversity, those around quality, right, is the product designed in a way that's researched back. And then there's interestingly other ways that are specifically around procurement that are, like, outcomes based contracting, our school districts, you know, requiring a tech provider to say, we'll give you some money now And if you reach the outcomes that we agree upon, we'll give you the rest of the money later. So, there's a lot of ways that to build an effective ecosystem system, infected ed tech ecosystem, and there's and the the truth is it's just hard it's it's a hard thing to do to evaluate ed tech and so different organizations, different school systems are taking different approaches.

Yeah. That's that's great. I I wanted to switch over to case Can you tell us a little bit about your district and also, whether you have a sense of whether educators know what tools are available to them and whether your district leaders know what tools are being used or and and how they're managing that. Sure. So thank you for giving me an opportunity to share a little bit about what we've been doing in Union public schools to kinda help answer some of these questions.

So we have been customers of learn platform learn platform since prior to COVID. Right? So thankfully, we had learned platform to be able to help our teachers identify what products were approved, but also to ask and request products that weren't yet approved to be vetted. And so I think that that's really important. And and I would say prior to us really kind of outlining learn platform as the tool to do that, There was really some ambiguity about what is approved and what teachers are allowed to use. And not only that, but if if products were not approved or, they were not on the list, there was kind of some question about what what was the reason why were those products not approved? And I think the more that we really kind of put that out in front of folks, the things that we're looking for, right, what are the things that we think are important that you'd allow me to the curriculum, student data privacy, safety, things like that, are really important to us and the more that we kind of champion a process for requests and to see approval, the more knowledgeable our teachers are.

So I would say that absolutely, are there some products in our district that are being used that maybe leadership doesn't know about could be. But one of the things that we also utilize with learn platform is we have an app extension that measures or that kind of captures the ad tech products that are being used. And our teacher, our as a district, we can monitor Right? What are our top ten products? And so I want our top top top ten products to be those products that we invest in. We invest money. We invest time.

We invest professional learning in. And sometimes I can see some maybe some free products creeping up there. And so that allows to kinda make some decisions about what is the current reality? What are the teachers actually using? What are the students actually using? And what are the things that, we want to kind of encourage folks to use more and things like that. So not only do we have a library that shows what's been approved. We have a process for approval.

And we also have a way to kinda check back to say, are they using the products that we think that they're using? And we do all that through learn platform, which is pretty handy. When it comes to talking about and understanding what is happening in your ad tech ecosystem? Yeah. That's great. Really quick take a, follow-up for UKC. Were there any surprises or takeaways that you quickly wanted to share from the review of that data? Not any real surprises.

One of the things that I have been monitoring the last couple of years, especially during COVID or after, you know, the years that the time following COVID specifically is we were really focusing on, our teachers utilizing Canvas as our LMS. We thought that everyone, you know, k twelve utilizing that LMS was really important to simplify things for students and for parents. And we had I would not say other elements, but we had people using other products. And we have been able to watch other products kind of fall down the list as in maybe our top ten products. Right? And that's the intended outcome.

So no surprises, but really happy to see kind of some of those things that we're doubling down on things like our LMS or, you know, creation products that we're really encouraging teachers and students to use. We really can find success when we see those competitors and some of those maybe products that are not as robust. Fall, low little bit lower on the place. Yeah. That's great.

Melissa, I wanna turn to you. Can you tell us just a bit about your role? In Shuckshire. And, my question for you was, why educators or why district leaders should be encouraging educators to really care about this unmanaged technology and the implications for that. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

So I am in a a new role for Instructure. Called our chief academic officer. And, my my purpose is to bring together conversations, thought leadership, best practices from the education community and curate those out, reflect on those and help educators help organizations and institutions think best about how would they are leveraging educational technology tools in the broader learning journey of our students. So it's really just these kinds of conversations, not only being a part of them, but hoping to surface up some really great insights like we are here today to be able to bring back to the broader education community And I think what both of, my fellow panelists have touched on is the value of having teachers students, parents, districts be aware and thoughtful about the management of their edu educational technology ecosystem because there's a lot at play there. There's everything from the resources needed to manage those twenty six hundred tools that you mentioned at the beginning.

There's the, there's the efficacy, making sure that the tools that are being leveraged are you being leveraged in the way they are intended to be leveraged are having the outcomes desired. There's things like safety, security, privacy. And there's a there's a lot out there that teachers and students can tap into, but not everything has the intentionality that's needed to be a, a, a secure, a private, a, meaningful tool in the education construct So I think it's really important. I mean, you, you know, I I think back to the days when, when we first started using the internet in education, and we needed to bring digital literacy to the forefront both for teachers and for students and even for parents it's the same thing now. It's it's not just digital literacy that it's dual literacy and understanding.

As a user, what did that mean for you? And and being able to pick and choose the best tools for your own, you know, student growth. So I think it's really important that districts, parents, teachers, students, all are aware of the tooling that's being used and are able to make thoughtful decisions guided by leaders at districts, around that to lean to support learning. Yeah. That's great. That's that's definitely something I would love to drill down into that that tool See, Tom, can can you talk a little bit about that, about how whether our educators understand how specific tools are intended to be used and kind of the the the training portion? Yeah.

Absolutely. And and I'll say, like, it may even be helpful to know, like, what what are teachers up against when there's when they know, like, what tool is available for them to be used, you have an district administrator who says here are the tools that are approved and available to you, and what they're up against typically is word-of-mouth, and Google. Both of whom are pretty powerful. And so I think there's part of this conversation around how do we even Right? How do we get to an educator level for them to understand what good looks like? What does good ed tech look like and how to implement it? So part of it is, as I mentioned before, it's really hard to evaluate what good edtech means. And when you talk to an educator, and say, what's your favorite tool? And they'll say x y z.

And you'll and and if you ask, why is that your favorite tool? Oftentimes, I've heard responses like it's really engaging for students, or it's super simple to use. Or, for example, if it's a middle school coding application, and the teacher doesn't know how to code and say, I learn alongside the kids. And those are all things that a teacher experiences But in order to articulate that in a way that can be translated into what makes a good product is challenging, there's very few people in the world who are both true educationalists, and technologists. And you really have to have a common language to be able to understand My students are really engaged. What does that actually look like as it relates to a set of product features? So from some of the work that we've done is really trying to set out to define what does teacher usability mean.

And we've broken that out into pedagogical usability of ed tech tools, meaning How does a tool support guide enable educators to do to practice, you know, research based instruction and then also technical usability, is this product easy to navigate? Does it chunk information in meaningful ways? To have a bread crumb trail, just simple UX work. And so part of the work is educating classroom educators on and ed tech coaches and district administrators on what does teacher usability mean, and that can really help support identifying high quality products. Yeah. That's that's great. Casey, I wanted to talk a little bit about the this usage gap, you know, leaders expect x y z to be used, but teachers aren't using it as as Tal was alluding to, how can leaders, helping school leaders and and districts really understand that ed tech usage, with an eye towards closing those usage gaps and and getting everyone on the same page.

Sure. I think it starts really with understanding why teachers are choosing to use a different product. And and sometimes like Tel said, it's it's because it's easier to navigate. Right? And so I think as a district, it's it's our job to help them feel confident and learn more about and and do some professional learning around that product. Right? And and really kinda sell the product to our teachers.

So it's either that. Right? And and I I really kind of hate to say this, but sometimes a product could be amazing, and it's the most amazing product, but if a teacher is either doesn't wanna use it or avoids it or the, you know, then then it's not a great product, and it's just not a good fit for you. And so sometimes we have to make really hard decisions. Sometimes there's great products, and we have to say the product, even though it's an amazing robust tool that does amazing things for for other schools in district, maybe it's not doing that for us. And so sometimes those gaps mean that we have to consider looking for something else or looking elsewhere or changing our practices because even if a product is good, But no one is using it.

It's not really impacting student learning, and that's really what it's it's all about. So we have to shift gears as leaders. We can do that as well, but I think it really starts with learning from our teachers of the why of why they are not using the product, or why they are going in another direction. Yeah. Yeah.

And and and those are tough decisions. No, for for sure. I I I appreciate that response. Melissa, you had mentioned earlier that that part of your role is surfacing best practices. And and I think that that's really I think that that's a really interesting role.

There are, like, as as everybody knows, there's a lot of expenses with ed tech, including adoption, training, and ongoing, you know, licensing fees. Can you talk a little bit about, what budget considerations, leaders should be thinking about when assessing what ed tech they they wanna keep in making some of those difficult decisions as Casey was talking about. Yeah. It's it's such an important point. Understanding what is being used and why it's being used just like Casey and Tal, described is so critical because resources are finite.

There is a lot of different ways that, a district and leaders can choose to invest those resources. Both people resources and dollar resources. And if you have a vast and disparate education technology ecosystem, you can be spending money. There could be duplicates, tools that do similar things, And, you know, it just happens to be a favorite of a certain set of teachers versus another set. That could be a waste of resources or an opportunity more importantly.

To take those resources from one of those schools and then invest it elsewhere in initiatives in the district. You could also find places where the cost of those technologies isn't aligning to either the usage or the impact back to how, you know, How is this having, how is this put in a role in the success metrics that we have for individual student learning? There's a lot. There's complexity there as we think about budget. It's not just, you know, keep the stuff that's being used. It can get rid of the stuff that isn't.

But it's it's it there's a layer beneath that of thinking about how and where are we investing our resources and dollars as a district and as leaders And then how does that align to the kind of usage we'd want to encourage, at at that level by teachers? Yeah. Yeah. And and and that sounds like it takes a significant amount of pre planning. Right, Melissa? Yeah. Yeah.

It definitely takes pre planning. It also takes thoughtful leadership. I think the folks on my my fellow panelists are really great examples of that. You know, you you need to first understand where are you at and what's being used whilst building, what do what do you wanna see from your edtech ecosystem? And then you could start to match the two together. So depending on your district or or or, you know, learning goals, you can then think about how do we achieve those effectively with the tools that are either being used or could be used given, the direction and efficacy that, that pedagogical effectiveness and technology effectiveness that was talked about.

How can we, how can we marry the two? But that survey of the landscape first is really important, while you're building that strategy, and then you can start making those valuable decisions to invest your resources in the best ways. Yeah. Yeah. I I wanna move on to the next, pillar, which is, talking about supporting this, edtech ecosystem. And so I I wanted to start with with Utah.

We had talked a little bit earlier on the conversation about, I think it was Casey who brought up, making sure that teachers understand the why behind the decision. So I wanted to ask you about the best ways to communicate these ed tech decisions to staff and really, helping them to understand the why and and what we need to be considering for that. Yeah. Absolutely. This is a great question, and and it sort of begs the additional question of What is the responsibility of an educator in all of this? Right? Like, educators have so much on their plate.

They, you know, this is not a new problem. Like, ten years ago, twenty years ago, thirty years ago. We were talking about teacher burnout. We're talking about, how teachers having an ever growing list of things that they have to manage from, you know, going just from, you know, one class to multiple classes to social emotional components to several different pieces, you know, in terms of preschool after school, work. So teachers have a lot on their plate.

And so I think as part of your question, I'll reframe it as how can we make sure teachers know what good looks like without adding a lot to their plate. And one of those answers is simply, like, if there if the school district does have an ed tech, an ed tech management system, an ed tech ecosystem that's formalized, just building in that sort of automatic behavior of, like, let's check what's approved. And in so many school districts, like that small behavior change that change management is not quite done effectively, which leads to this sort of leaky bucket of so many new ed tech products coming in. So just making sure educators know they are supported in terms of the curation and approval of EDTech products. The other thing I'll I'll say is if that process doesn't exist yet in a school district.

There are market validators in the world. There's They're folks who are validating for student data privacy. They're folks who are validating for interoperability. These are trusted third party, organizations, who sort of help with help create these market validators so that school systems don't have to do it for every single ed tech ed tech product they use. Not every ed tech product needs to be evaluated with the same level of rigor, right, if it's core curriculum product, that's really important.

It's going to be used every day by, you know, a large group of people. I think the state of the market today is there are a long tail of ed tech products that are used for twenty minutes a week. By a teacher. And, like, those edtech products should be high quality, but we probably not only we do we not have to, but we school districts don't have the capacity to do that level of evaluation. So I think knowing where your friends are in the ecosystem and what are trusted sources are a good way to support sort of this procurement education for educators and school systems.

Yeah. That's great. Casey, I just wanted to circle with you and and and talk a little bit about what that looks like in practice, especially about this really interesting point that brought up about core curriculum products versus ancillary tools and, how you can communicate this why to your teachers. So, actually, I I think, the interesting part about this is that, I feel like I have been a dream killer when it comes to ed tech tools for our teachers for, like, the last twelve to fifteen years. And and while some of this is new, right, we broke the news to some of our teachers many, many, many years ago that the terms of service was something that they had to look at, right, and the age requirement.

So we had a lot of teachers who just didn't know to look there, and I was in a technology role at the time. And so we really started championing our teachers to to look at the terms of service and look at the privacy policy and see if there was age limits. And so fast forward, you know, ten, fifteen years. Now we're really talking about data privacy with student data. And that's kind of like our dreamcloud now.

So when people say, Pissy, I asked for this product, and it's denied. I I need to understand why. And so it used to be we would say what did look at the terms of service, the age says or the use case or whatever. But now we're we're really able to say, unfortunately, it's been denied because the company won't agree to our terms for data privacy, which is really important. And no teacher in the world is gonna be like, oh, well, let's use it.

You know, like, every teacher's like, oh, well now that I understand. You know, that's good. And so we actually build in some practices to have teachers ask. Right? What is the age requirement? So we ask those questions when they request a product. So that helps to kind of build into their brain that they need to know the answers to those questions.

And so that really helps. That doesn't necessarily answer your questions even about, curriculum and core versus we call it in my district. We call it supplemental. But we have two separate, practices according to our board policy for adoption of resources. The one is for core, and that's for things that the pushes out.

And then one is for what we call supplemental, and those are the things that the teachers bring to the table. And so, we're doing a really a lot of work around helping teachers to understand the different processes and what they need to do if they wanna bring something into their classroom, whether it's a print resource, or it's an ed tech product. There's still kind of some criteria that we need to make sure that it's contributing to the the pathway and, the work that they are striving to, do in their classroom, right, align with curriculum, all of those things. Yeah. Yeah.

That's that's great. I I do wanna move on in the interest of time to this this third pillar, which is sustaining. The tech ecosystem and and talking a little bit about evaluation and, you know, what, with data we're we're really using. You know, what, you know, there's there's quantitative and there's qualitative data that districts can be using. Melissa, can you talk a little bit about some of those considerations? We all know, you know, about student scores and, you know, how much time on task and how much time teachers are spending.

What are what are some of these quantitative and qualitative data points that districts can be, using in their decision making process. Yeah. I think, you know, it we've talked a lot about what what should be used and why. I think then once you've curated this this collection of tools to be used, the next step is to ensure that it they are continuing to be used in the way they are meant And to also surface up data and insights into, are they having, you know, that pull through impact that we wanna see? So you already mentioned on student performance or student engagement. There was a lot of there's there's qualitative aspects to this that we can see.

Is it if this tool is is meant to, you know, deepen skills in certain areas, can we see that as we look at our key district indicators? And that's definitely a quantitative piece. There's also that qualitative piece to do around each of these tools that that surface and that that qualitative should be about, is this, the right experience that represents our district, our goals And does it help teachers, first of all, create deeper connection with their students, perhaps, or, you know, address areas of deficiencies or engage students in in new areas that they might be interested and then similarly from a student perspective that qualitative level is, you know, does this help me understand myself as a learner does this help me think about how I can, you know, does this help me understand and move along my learning path? You know, whether it be at a very young age or on through to, you know, graduated and and move on to post secondary. So it's this it's it's it's really the the the indicators need to be aligned to the most important district indicators and where leadership is looking to either take on opportunities or address challenges or both. The good news is the research that that you can do around maze tooling just by seeing how it's being used and where it's being used. If you have a good originating data set, you can start to correlate those against other performance indicators And you should be out there getting feedback, from teachers and students on how do they feel about these tools? You know, what role do they play and why? I saw there was a question that has come in asking about, you know, over usage, not just under usage.

That's a great qualitative indicator. Okay. Why is it being over usage? Is it necessarily a good thing? So following up with why is this being overused? What is it being what, you know, how is it being used? Not only can that, you know, evaluate the tools that aggregate, you can start to identify teachers and opportunities for professional development therein. Yeah. That's great.

Tal is over usage something you've come across in your r and d work? Totally. I mean, I think there is this very real under talked about challenge. I should say I'm a bit of an ed tech for Mudge, and I love ed tech. I want ed tech sector to be successful, and I'm a bit of a curmudgeon. And, like, one of the one of the things I worry about is there's really engaging ed tech that may not actually be leading to the outcomes, right, leading to student improvements.

And so an example, in, like, situations like that where there's a really engaging product, but it doesn't actually help a student grow, then, you know, an one minute of it is over usage. And so, like, I think there is, that's that's definitely part of the conversation. I also think, like, going back to a couple of points Melissa made, there's like three phases, I'd say. Like, the first is, like, the gates into the school district. How are we evaluating? What's our What's the best way that we can guess that this product will work in our school district? And there's a lot of upfront work that goes into that.

Around usability, around interoperability data privacy, evidence, and the things that but evidence not if it works in your school district, did it work in school districts like yours, right? You don't know yet for your school district. Then there's the implementation phase, which is a lot of that mix of qualitative and quantitative And then I think towards the end of the cycle, being able to say, did we do we feel good about this product? And only at the end of the cycle, I think a lot of times school districts, will run into the challenge of saying, like, it I wish we knew I wish we communicated early what good looks like, to the provider, it's a instead another way, like, does this provider support me in a this evaluation, or am I totally on my own? And, like, one so, like, the language I've been using is, is the product designed with research, and then is it designed for research? Meaning, or at the beginning of an ed at beginning of using a product, can you ask your edtech product or the ATech provider, hey, will I be able to look twelve months from now and see if I reached the goal that I wanted to reach with this? Will you help me with that research, is a good question to ask to help with that entire evaluation and keep you and and a tech provider on the same page throughout you know, your use of their product. Yeah. That's that's great. Casey, I wanted to circle back with you just a little bit about how your leaders, decide what outcomes they, they're going to prioritize when they're, when they're making decisions and, and kind of what some of those look Sure.

So, first, we absolutely get usage. Right? I think that's really important. But you can't make decisions based on stage alone. And and one of the things that I kinda always say is sometimes the only person looking at usage is the person who, made the contact to buy the product, like, at a school. Right? Let's say that they're buying a product, and it's the bookkeeper because she made the connection.

Sometimes the bookkeeper is the only one that's getting the usage reports. And so no one's even looking at that. So, you know, sometimes that's really important to look at usage. I would not look at usage alone when we make district wide purchase decisions. We look at usage.

We also utilize learn platform to send requests to our teachers, taking us feedback. And they have a really great rubric that asks teachers things like how often do you use it? Which which subgroups? Do you use it you know, for enrichment, do you use it for remediation? Do you use it for court? So, it gives us some really good feedback when the teachers complete that. And we usually do that around budget students. So most of our teachers kind of know to expect that. And they know that we make decisions based on that, which I think is really important.

When possible, we also use the impact analysis. And Melissa kinda talked a little bit about that with correlating achievement data with usage data to say if, you know, this product is really having this much of an impact on student learning. The really interesting thing, and that I, really enjoy asking and talking about is students. And how do they feel about the product? And so Melissa, this is just a little plug that I would love to see student feedback options. And we've played with this, and I've talked to the learn for a really long time.

But I wanna ask students how they feel about the product, and I wanna get just as much feedback from them as we get from the teachers. More importantly, I wanna show the teachers what they think versus what the students think. Because to go back to the overuse conversation, You know, if a teacher and and if we think about secondary, if a teacher is using a product in first period, And they're only using it once a week, but then the student's second period teacher is using it. And they're third then they might use it four times in one day. Right? And the teachers, that might not come up for the teachers because they don't recognize that, you know, they're using the same product or there's repetition there, but the students feel that.

And so that tool fatigue kind of is is a big deal for kids, and I think that we could trust our secondary kids to give us even our own entry kids. We could we could trust our kids to give honest feedback about how they feel about products. And I don't think we do that with it. Yeah. That's that's great.

We did get their question in the chat about, whether the usage from the vendor, you know, is, you know, matches your experience. Casey, can you talk a little bit about your experience? Do you generally trust what the the data that you're getting back as a match with your experience? Sure. So I absolutely usually trust the usage from the vendor, but I don't usually want the vendor to tell me about my students' achievement in their product. Usually, I like to use my numbers, my achievement scores, and then I correlate those through learn platforms so that I'm using my numbers. Because I think there is a little bit of, you know, of an opportunity to to make something look like.

If a vendor is looking to get you to renew, You know, they absolutely could show you in a way that is full in in support of utilizing their products. So I always tell folks sometimes they send me some of those reports. And I say thanks. I like to use my numbers and run my reports and do my own analysis, and I can compare those sometimes. But it that allows me to compare apples to apples whenever I can across the district.

Right? Because if somebody's sending me effect effectiveness reports based on lessons, and then another product is based on minutes used. And another product is based on else, then I'm not really looking across, you know, commonality. So if I sit at that up and I do that in this. I can get it as a like as possible so I can look from one product to another. Yeah.

And if I if I might to that definitions are gonna vary from vendor to vendor. They're gonna interpret things like engagement and, you know, performance. There's a lot of things out there that vendors will look at differently and use different data points to drive those reports. So I think what Casey is saying is so spot on, not only to be able to align consistently and look at apples to apples, but to also ground the data that you're getting from vendors against your own definitions of those either terms or outcomes or indicators. Yeah.

That's that's great. Melissa, can I follow-up one of the impedances for this conversation was the, so funding cliff, or this, you know, impending funding cliff? Can you talk a little bit, you know, about what districts can be doing to kind of minimize this impact and and what they should be thinking about now? Yeah. Yeah. It's it's this is so important to be thinking about this now. In fact, I would say, you know, you should have been thinking about this potentially a couple months ago at the very least, because One of the things that I think has happened over the last couple of years is there has been a pretty significant proliferation of new technologies and this acceptance of experimenting or trying new technologies.

That's a good thing, but it's also led to lots of technologies being used. And I think what districts are rather than just looking for places to cut dollars because funding is changing. It's more looking for places where they can continue to take advantage of the fact that educators are accepting in a different way, and it excited about in a different way, technologies, and then picking the right ones for that district. So I I I still see investment districts pay, you know, wanting to build ecosystems, but they need to do it where, they can have the most effective or, the, the largest return on investment with reduced funding coming coming, you know, we we use dollars to try everything. Well, we've tried it all.

Now we gotta pick what's gonna be the most important. So districts should be in that process, thinking about what tools and not just straight up using usage, or as Casey and Fal talked about not just using what vendors are telling you. But really reflecting for yourself on what is the most impactful so you can pick and choose in the right ways. The other thing is I think then you can also invest your resources to sustain those choices. Because just making things available that you that are good tools and aligned to the right you know, pedagogical approaches and are technically sound isn't enough.

It's also creating the training and the context around that. Informing not only teachers, but students how and why they're being used and parents. There's a growing need to be able to have parents understand how and why are their children, especially at home, using these technologies. So it gives you two pull. Right? You can make some good decisions if you're evaluating these early and often.

But it also around your budget, but it also helps you understand where should you invest resources around those to do things like that development to do integration to be able see the right kinds of datasets and really get the most bang for your buck with the tools that you select. Yeah. That's great. I I just wanted to touch on a similar point with Utah. How districts can really be maximizing their and resources, you know, if if they are worried about having fewer resources, next year or in the coming years.

Yeah. Just adding on to what Melissa said and maybe just, like, saying it in slightly different words. Like, I think Right. This is a human problem less than a technical problem. Sorry.

More than a technical problem. Meaning, like, I think there's three components that must be true in order to effectively teach students with technology. Like, the first is there needs to be a coherent instructional vision how are how do we want to make the changes we want to we wanna make, in the school system? The second is we need to have prepared teachers, meaning are the teachers equipped to make those changes, are we providing them the professional learning that they need to make those changes? And then the third is the supportive tech. Right? Are we purchasing the technology that will support the teachers who are going to drive that vision, and that will create the change. So I think it's, like, it's vision, prepared teachers, supportive tech, and that will lead to the, outcomes.

But any one of those pieces is missing then, then I don't think you have a successful cocktail, but you can't have really great technology but no vision and no prepared teachers. You can't have really great teachers, but no vision and no technology to support them. Those three components must be true, and I think that is a maybe a clarifying way to think about what are the critical components of our edtech ecosystem by starting with vision and going to capacity and then going to the actual, technology that will sort of support teachers. Yeah. Yeah.

That's that's great. Casey, I I I did wanna talk a little bit about, you know, funding and resources district. There's an interesting question in the Q and A, relating to negotiation on EdTech products. Can you talk a little bit about whether that fits into your strategy and how you think about, you know, when it's time to renew licenses or time to adopt a new a new product, you know, what are the conversations and considerations that you're thinking about when it comes to different vendors? Sure. So, I'm in a relatively large district, in the state of North Carolina.

So we have fifty three schools. And so sometimes it makes better sense for us to kind of get some consensus between those fifty three schools to see if we can capitalize on bulk pricing. Right? And sometimes that means that my district might or my office might negotiate Hey, we had fifteen schools who are interested instead of each of those schools negotiating by themselves. Sometimes I help to kind of monitor that and and support them in that way so that they can get the best price. That is one strategy.

Right? And and really the key to that is getting everyone on board at the same time because that's not gonna necessarily play out if you have you know, ten schools who wanna start in August. And then you have two in September, and then two in October who are like, oh, I really wanna get in on that. So you can't really benefit. So you have to really kind of front load the leadership, with what is available and what those opportunities are. And and I would say that our leaders ship really appreciates that opportunity, but it benefits them as well.

I also look at, you know, what is the difference between buying a product for thirty schools and fifty three. Like, sometimes if thirty schools are purchasing it, what is the cost to add all of the rest of the schools? Right? And so we try and look at as many different scenarios as possible to see how we can get the most bang for our buck, when we are negotiating with a veteran. One thing, that I'll also add is that I try and do really hard that's been really, really successful for me is to make sure that our terms, our contract terms always run, and we choose August first to the end of July. So I don't have any products that expire in October. Right? And that makes it a really clean break if we decide to discontinue a product teachers don't get halfway through the school year and then the product is gone.

So I had to do a lot of prorated. I did some sixteen month agreements. I did some thirteen month agreements. But I've got pretty much every one of our products now, run from August first to July first or thirty first or thirtieth item. But anyway, the end of July, right? And so that is really helpful because you're feeling a little bit of pressure when you have teachers in the middle of October saying, I need the product.

I used it yesterday, and now it's gone. And so it makes it just a little bit easier so you have a little more leverage when you're talking with vendors in that way. That's great. That's great. And and before we wrap, I I'd be remiss if I didn't get to a question from my friend Nadia.

For a towel, you know, about, data privacy and considerations that inform, you know, training and also So adoption, you know, what should districts really be looking for when it comes to data privacy, tell? Yeah. A couple, a couple things and I'll I see Nadia's question in the Q and A. From an ed tech perspective, I used to work at a few different ed tech companies. A lot of school districts have different data privacy agreements. So especially for smaller ed tech companies, it can be challenging with limited capacity to make sure that they can in good faith sign every single agreement, particularly because a lot of the technology that they're offering you may not be theirs.

Right? They may be, for example, using a speech speech recognition artificial intelligence that's from a big tech company, and, they don't really know where that data is going. Right? It's going to that big tech company and they don't get to choose where it goes. And so that may be a reason that they can't in good faith sign a contract. I think, like, in terms of answering your question around student data privacy, I'll go back to my comment earlier on market validators. There are a number of, mostly nonprofit at tech intermediaries who really focus on student data privacy, common sense media is one of them, The student data privacy pledge is another one.

There's a few others that I'm failing to think of right now. And, essentially, a lot of the work they do is scroll through, at tech providers privacy policies and says, hey, this is good or not good. And they give badges. They give, like, for common sense, they give a, like, bad, moderate, and good. And you can find that either on their website, or, something that SD has is the product index that is essentially a place where we aggregate a lot of different ed tech market validators into one place, So you can go to index dot or at search dot index dot com and search for a product, and you'll see all of the validators that, the head tech provider has from digital pedagogy to accessibility to change their privacy to interoperability, to evidence soon, hopefully.

Will all be on the product index. Yeah. Could I just add on to that real quick? I'm sorry. One of the things that we see negotiations kind of happen back and forth between our legal counsel and the ad tech product until you bring up a really good point. We run into some school districts don't have, you know, legal counsel on they they have to pay they don't have them as part of their staff.

We are lucky enough to do that, but the same thing goes for ed tech companies. And so sometimes it's not worth an ed tech company for them to even review our data sharing agreement because they would have to pay, you know, some some legal for some feedback and and things like that. So sometimes, especially if it's a free product, they're like, we just we just can't. Right? And our paid products that we go back and forth with sometimes, really, the the number of hours after a breach is like the most controversial thing. And so while my district might say forty eight hours or seventy two hours, the district next door say a different set of hours.

And so I recognize that that's a really hard thing for EdTech products, right, because everybody's got a little bit different. I will shout out to North Carolina. They're trying to streamline that so that the state of North Carolina has an agreement. And once you're in that, you know, you're approved in the state of North Carolina, then everybody can benefit from that. And then we don't have to, you know, fight that.

So that's that's promising news, and I'm really excited about simplifying that process because it is not only am I the dream killer because it doesn't happen, but it's really a heavy lift for both sides to be able to work through that. Thank you. Yeah. That's great. Any any closing thoughts, Melissa, before we wrap? No.

I think the panelists have done an outstanding job. Giving some really great, practices and and and feedback to the community. But one last thing on this last question, what a tech also has a trusted apps listing that you can leverage as well. That's incorporated in things like learn platform. So, look for If you're gonna use Tullen, you know, looking for those seals and looking for where those different listings reference to each other can also be really helpful.

Because now you have multiple validation points. That's great. I just really wanna thank Melissa KC. Thank you so much for being part of our webinar today. Before we leave, I just wanted to direct your attention to a guide from learning platform.

Building a stronger ed tech ecosystem. You can access the guide using the QR code right here. It's a really great resource I hope you'll check it out. And once again, thank you to everybody for attending and asking questions and making this a really great webinar. Thanks so much, and we hope to see you soon.