Asking the Right Questions Before Switching to New Technology

asking questions

Asking the Right Questions Before Switching to New Technology 

Schools and universities across the country have been in a frenzy trying to adapt to new technology and streamline their processes  since the first Covid-19 closures in March of 2020. Many of these pivots were already in the works – like remote learning, wider community partnerships, and more direct parent engagement. With the onset of the pandemic, though, things had to be accelerated. 

There are many technological solutions available to help educators, schools and parents keep education going. In fact, many believe “education can emerge stronger than before” after this crisis. But change in schools can be tough. On one hand, education is notoriously traditional and on the other, the best planned changes don’t always go as planned.

The Miami Dade school district dropped an online learning platform for distance learning just after the start of the school year with virtually no warning. Parents were frustrated in the weeks beforehand but teachers were left scrambling. So students suffered on both ends.

How can schools and districts avoid such catastrophes? While bumps in the road are often inevitable, there are some questions to keep in mind when considering introducing a new technology into your school or district. 

Does the new technology help teachers meet learning objectives?

For teachers, the only tech products worth considering are those that are going to help them reach their student learning objectives. If the product provides support for differentiated instruction, or activities to enhance student learning, then they can be helpful. Many products are simply a distraction, or an extra thing to keep track of. Those won’t help. 

Does the product increase engagement?

Gazing around a dutifully rendered ancient Roman street in virtually reality won’t mean much if it doesn’t pull students in and help them make relevant, real-life connections to their learning (though for the record, we that would be awesome!). 

Teachers want to know that a product or tool is going to increase engagement, otherwise it is a waste of time for them. There are a lot of things that look dazzling but you don’t want it to wear out on day 17 out of 180.

Does the new technology assist instruction?

Ask any teacher and they’ll tell you that there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything they need to get done. A truly beneficial product will be one that’s been tried, tested, and proven to be effective in enhancing student learning. If it can allow a teacher to do more with less [headache/sweat/tears] it is good to go. 

Will the software deliver a consistent experience?

Although this question sounds rhetorical, it’s a real one to consider. Before taking on any new technology product, schools need to be sure that their infrastructure can support it. Networks, servers and computers can bottleneck somewhere in their process. That can render even the most advanced software useless in a worst-case scenario. 

Thousands of schools wrestled with outages in the first few weeks of remote learning because of a massive increase in server traffic. If a school plans to rely on a product, it should have the bandwidth to support it. 

What does the product cost?

This is an obvious question, right? Schools have budgets and the cost of acquiring a product is one to be considered. There is more to factor in besides just the initial cost, however. 

For example, the cost of training staff and providing tech support beyond the initial sale. Not to mention the cost of maintaining the product and ensuring integration with the school’s server system to keep things running smoothly.  

If you consider these questions and your answer to each is a resounding “yes,” you can reasonably trust that teachers will learn how to use your new software. Otherwise, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons. Be sure to determine if the cost of training is one that your school or district can take on. 

Too often, schools and districts purchase new software and then pull the plug on it before teachers have had a chance to master it. In order to meaningfully integrate a new product, districts need to be willing to provide adequate training and support for the teachers and staff who are going to be expected to use it. 

At LINQ, we offer a full suite of software solutions, built from the ground up for K‑12 schools. Our team of experts have been in your shoes and have built systems with you in mind. 

We’re always available to give you a tour of our products and help you determine if what we have to offer is right for you and your school community. (We’re pretty sure it will be!)