School Technology Management

K–12 Institutions Struggling to Manage More Digital Tools

K–12 teachers and students may have engaged with fewer ed tech products for learning last year, but the diversity of new digital tools has challenged school IT departments to manage them to comply with education needs as well as cybersecurity mandates.

LearnPlatform by Instructure’s sixth annual “EdTech Top 40” report for the 2022/23 school year shows that a whopping average of 2,591 ed tech tools were accessed by U.S. K–12 districts during the 2022–2023 school year. But the same tools were not used consistently. Instead, 1.7% unique new tools were engaged, according to a release.

The report is based on data collected by LearnPlatform in excess of 58 billion interactions, 3 million students, 465,000 educators, and 9,000 ed tech products. Compared to last year, students accessed 42 tools, as opposed to 52, and educators accessed 42, as opposed to 49.

“The numbers indicate that teachers and students are engaging with fewer edtech products to learn, but the diversity of options is forcing organizations to manage even more digital tools than last year,” said Karl Rectanus, senior vice president of K–12 Strategy at Instructure, in a prepared statement. “Organizations are now expected to proactively provide an ecosystem of interoperable, safe and equitable solutions for students and teachers to personalize learning. Based on these trends, evidence-based ed tech and platforms will likely drive purchasing, decision-making, and effective teaching and learning.”

The report lists the top 40 most accessed ed tech tools and their categories and purposes. Newly added this year is Resources and Digital Collections.

The data prompted several questions, the company noted:

  • How can institutions best manage the diversity of learner-focused tools being chosen?

  • Does the data indicate that learning remains human-centered but increasingly tech-driven?

  • How can institutions maintain and increase student data privacy and safety?

  • What impact will ESSA evidence requirements have on the timeliness of purchasing, renewing, and product development of ed tech tools?

  • Will new developments in AI be incorporated into existing ed tech solutions or require new (and perhaps more costly) ones?

The report data indicates three key takeaways:

  1. Good decisions need good data, such as the ESSA framework.

  2. Data privacy and cybersecurity, especially as outlined by FERPA and COPPA, are a top concern and are expected to be prioritized.

  3. Vetting tech is important and should include “aligning learning solutions” that involve various stakeholders.

Visit Instructure’s report page for an overview, and the download page to get a copy.

Visit the LearnPlatform page to learn more.

InstructureCon 2023 will be held live and in-person July 26-28 in Denver. Visit the conference page to learn more.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.