Ed Tech Trends

Ed Tech Use Continues Growth Beyond the Peak of the Pandemic

Google, Kahoot! And Zoom are the most-used tools of 2020–2021.

The use of digital tools in K–12 is continuing to grow well after the pandemic's peak. During the 2020–2021 school year, districts in the United States each used a mind-boggling 1,449 different digital tools on average per month.

That average breaks down to 967 tools used by educators in each district and 1,134 used by students. The overall figure is up a substantial 9% over the spring 2020 ed tech adoption surge during the frantic exodus to remote learning as schools shut down for in-person instruction nationwide. And it's up 52% over 2019-2020 pre-pandemic levels.

This is according to a new report from LearnPlatform, which has been tracking ed tech usage since 2017. The data for 2020–2021 came from more than 44 billion "engagement events" by students and educators. A total of 8,616 individual digital tools were measured. More than 250,000 educators were and 2 million students were included in the usage data. LearnPlatform publishes an ed tech effectiveness system (also called LearnPlatform), which is used by schools and districts for insights into the effectiveness of the technologies they use, including safety, cost-efficiency, efficacy for learners and equitability.

“No matter the key focus of the technology, we've seen a steady increase in the number of digital tools used in classrooms, whether virtual or in-person. Tech-enabled learning is here to stay and now is the time to ensure that ed tech is effective in supporting teaching and driving student outcomes,” said Karl Rectanus, CEO and Founder of LearnPlatform, in a statement released to coincide with the report. “While we focus on equipping districts and states to improve the safety, equity, efficiency and effectiveness of their learning environments, this analysis provides an important broader perspective to help K-12 decision-makers.”

Among individual technologies that made the 2020–2021 top-40 list, Google holds the top 6 positions: Google Docs, Google Slides, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Forms and Google Classroom, in that order. Google also holds two other positions in the top 10: Google Sites at No. 8 and Google Sheets at No. 10.

Only two non-Google digital tools made the top 10: Kahoot!, which came in at 7, and Zoom, which came in at 9.

New to the top 40 this year were Jamboard (No. 22), Pear Deck (No. 28) and Booklet (No. 37). Three other tools returned to the top 40 after falling off last year, according to LearnPlatform: History.com (No. 29), Encyclopedia Britannica (No. 30) and MIT App Inventor (No. 37) returned to the list after dropping off last year’s list which focused on the months after widespread school closures related to COVID-19.

The complete report is freely available on LearnPlatform's site. Additional details beyond the basic report, including top-10 products in each category, are available with registration.