Ed-Tech Usage Continues to Rise, Despite District Focus on Tougher Standards

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Teachers’ and students’ use of educational technology has jumped over the past year, despite some districts’ stated misgivings about digital saturation and rising standards for the kinds of products they adopt.

Though industry officials have predicted a tightening of inventory across districts, especially as budgets shrink as federal stimulus funding expires this year, a report released today shows otherwise.

School systems are still accessing a wide range of tools throughout the school year — 8 percent more than last year — according to LearnPlatform by Instructure’s seventh annual EdTech Top 40 report, announced at the International Society for Technology in Education conference in Denver.

According to the report, districts are using an average of 2,739 distinct tools annually and 1,436 tools monthly.

The number of unique ed-tech tools accessed individually by both students and teachers also increased. Students used an average of 45 tools during the 2022-23 school year, three more than the previous year, and educators used an average of 49 products, seven more than last school year.

2024 6 EdTech Top 40 Landing Page Images  Large Graph

LearnPlatform by Instructure’s EdTech Top 40 Report

Data was gathered using LearnPlatform’s Inventory Dashboard from September 2023 to May 2024. It includes more than 57 billion interactions across more than 9,000 education technology products throughout the year.

The fact that the number of tools districts are using is still growing is surprising, but the continued appetite opens doors for education companies that can prove their value and make educators’ jobs easier, said Melissa Loble, chief academic officer for Instructure.

“If I were a vendor, I would really need to distinguish myself,” she said. Ed-tech vendors that can meet standards for “interoperability, [and] evidence, and how you’re using AI ethically and responsibly will help create distinction.”

The sheer volume of tools educators and students are still accessing – plus the fact that only 32 percent of the tools on the Top 40 list have published research that meets one of the Every Student Succeeds Act four tiers of evidence – highlights a need for vendors to do more to demonstrate interoperability capabilities and evidence of impact, Loble said.

Companies that show their ability to integrate into existing systems and help K-12 leaders cut down on the number of different platforms that teachers must access, as well as those that have proof of improving student outcomes, will stand out, she predicted.

Earlier this month, CEO of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Richard Culatta, told EdWeek Market Brief in an interview that districts are reinforcing tighter standards when it comes to the tools they’re adopting within their systems.

“We’re in a moment where some big funding shifts are getting ready to happen,” he said. “The bar of entry to schools for tech tools and apps is naturally going up.”

Despite this, Instructure’s Loble says she sees two possible reasons why the number of tech tools is still increasing from last year. A reinvigorated focus on teaching and learning — as school systems continued to seek learning recovery strategies in the wake of setbacks caused by the pandemic — could be driving the need for tools focused on solving one particular problem, rather than more comprehensive, all-encompassing products.

The second part of that may be due to increased interest in artificial intelligence, as districts and educators test out new technologies and figure out how to incorporate those products into their classrooms.

The report’s top 40 tools used remain consistent with previous years, with companies such as ClassLink, Kahoot, and Quizlet included in the list. Five new additions to the list this year include PBS, Panorama Education, Scratch, Adobe, and Grammarly — the last three indicating an increased interest in artificial intelligence-powered products.

Going forward though, Loble expects the number of tech tools used to trend downward as districts continue to raise the bar on standards for the types of products used in their systems.

“Education companies need to continue to think about how can they demonstrate the effectiveness that they have in the learning process,” she said.


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