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In today’s age of digital transformation, schools and districts have an increasing number of technology tools to advance teaching and learning. Knowing how to navigate the options–and designing an effective tech stack for students and administrators–can help keep pace with the future.

If you’re an educator or school administrator, you likely face difficult decisions about which educational technology to use.

Technology can be difficult to implement and align with the mission, challenges, and use cases of your learning community.

Additionally, the number of tools available for students and teachers is growing. During the 2021-22 school year, classrooms added 3+ new technology tools. And the average number of tech products schools and districts access has tripled in the last several years. This figure increased from 548 during the 2017-18 school year to 1,417 during the 2021-22 school year.

Education today is increasingly powered by tech. Which means questions about which technology to use–and why–are top-of-mind for many schools and district leaders. From learning management systems (LMS) to smart boards with video conferencing, web conferencing tools, teaching and learning applications, cloud services, and even virtual reality immersion, designing an effective tech stack is invaluable today in education. And using these tools seamlessly together can make a difference in quality learner outcomes.

In a recent webinar, Class hosted a panel of administrators from around the country to learn how they approach their district’s tech stack design. Watch the webinar for the full discussion.

Here are the panelists’ tips on integrating and evaluating new technologies for learning.

Have a Process for Adding and Subtracting Tech Tools

With more technology available to teachers and students, prioritization is everything. That means figuring out what works and what doesn’t and knowing which tools to emphasize for certain learning outcomes over others. When it comes to adding more tools–or removing the ones that aren’t used–here are some best practices.

Evaluate your technology tools regularly.

It’s easier to add new technology than remove it. To prioritize which technology your school or district keeps–or cuts–implement a regularly-scheduled evaluation.

Curb unnecessary add-ons by considering existing tools first. If a new use case pops up from teachers or students, figure out if you can already solve for it. Don’t add new tools if others do the task already.

“How do we know when a new tool is needed? We also have to ask the question–how do we know when it’s not needed? In education, we’re good at adding tools but not taking them away. We miss the opportunity to evaluate the tools we currently have. If they aren’t bringing us our intended outcomes, we must be intentional about removing them.” KELLY MAY-VOLLMAR, ED.D.  ,
Superintendent, Desert Sands Unified School District

Empower a collective administrative voice when adding new technology.

A codified process to add new tools can help align intent between teachers, administrators, staff, and students. This consensus drives buy-in for learning, training, and use. Consensus also provides all members of your community to stay involved, offer feedback, and support each other in any new process.

“Build out a system that is empowering to others. A process to implement new tools and resources is key. It allows curriculum, instruction, and technology to ensure it will work in our environment and be successful. A submission process takes time–it’s not an automatic yes or no–and can help drive a decision that works well with less friction.” DANNIELLE LORD,
Executive Director of Technology, Mooresville Graded School District

Ensure Technology is Accessible and Inclusive

When implementing new technology, evaluate if it’s compliant with modern accessibility standards. This mechanic should be at the center of an inclusive and equitable learning environment. And as more students learn online or use technology applications, this is ever more important. Here are some best practices for considering accessibility when designing your tech stack.

Use a shared tech specs document to weigh accessibility standards.

“We have a document we use when implementing new technology. It’s a checklist and requirement in our tech specs to itemize accessibility features. The tech specs document helps us answer questions such as: Are we following ADA compliance? What tools increase access for different learning abilities?” MARLO GADDIS, Chief Technology Officer, Wake County Public Schools

Have an Implementation or Adoption Plan

Project and change management are important parts of designing an effective tech stack. Here are some best practices for implementation.

Think from a student and teacher perspective.

If new technology tools are for teaching and learning, consider users’ perspectives. Are your students and teachers ready for it–and do they need it? When defining the outcome of a new technology, consider how accessible it is to all of your students.

“We have a three-bucket model. We first look at capacity, which is the fatigue lens. Do they have the capacity–knowledge or expertise–to implement something new? The second part is the implementation plan–how are we going to roll it out? That includes the timeline, needs, and who is responsible. Lastly, we think about outcomes. Clearly define expectations for outcomes, and they have to be measurable.” KELLY MAY-VOLLMAR, ED.D.,
Superintendent, Desert Sands Unified School District

Clearly communicate the “why.”

“When people understand the “why,” technology implementation is easier. When people are blindsided, they are unfamiliar and less likely to succeed. The more you can communicate–the more buy-in you get–will help manage people’s fatigue. Give people time to digest the change that’s going to happen.” DANNIELLE LORD,
Executive Director of Technology, Mooresville Graded School District

The Future of Technology Integration at Schools

In 2023, designing an effective digital ecosystem ranked among the top 3 most important hurdles for education systems to address.

Part of designing your district’s technology stack is aligning the tools with strategies, pedagogies, and challenges of learners and teachers.

Class helps schools worldwide power online synchronous learning, integrating seamlessly with existing LMSs and other teaching and learning applications.

To find out more about how Class can help with your school’s remote learning needs–and integrate with other technology you use–talk to our team.

Jamie Turak
Jamie Turak

Jamie Turak is an Education Content Manager at Class. He's passionate about storytelling and helping to make education more accessible.

Jamie Turak
Jamie Turak

Jamie Turak is an Education Content Manager at Class. He's passionate about storytelling and helping to make education more accessible.

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