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ERIC Number: ED573715
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Evaluating Evidence for Ed-Tech Product Effectiveness: Guidelines for School Districts
Center for Research and Reform in Education
Educational technology products offer potentially effective means of supporting teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms. But for any given instructional need, there are likely to be numerous product options available for purchasing. What can school districts do to help ensure that good selections are made? In a recent, comprehensive study of ed-tech product procurement, the processes used by the consumers (school district stakeholders) and sellers (product developers and providers) were viewed along a continuum of the following five "Action Points": (1) Allotment of Funding; (2) Assessment of Needs; (3) Discovery of Ed-Tech Products; (4) Evaluation of Products; and (5) Acquisition of Selected Products. As in buying everyday consumer products, such as cars, furniture, and washing machines, decisions certainly depend on the available budget and personal needs. In the case of ed-tech products, the latter are determined by "needs assessments," which should specify where instructional support is needed (e.g., in fourth-grade math), how it would be used (e.g., as a supplement for regular instruction), and by whom (e.g., all students at individual performance levels). From the needs assessment, focus shifts to "discovering" which products are in the marketplace that can directly support the identified needs. The discovery process will undoubtedly yield at least one and, frequently, several solutions that potentially "fill the bill." Of course, there will be many factors to consider in evaluating these products. Some may have features that meet a school's requirements better than others (e.g., a parent participation component), some may be more economical, and some may be more compatible with existing resources and space. But, arguably, the most important factor is that some may be more effective and be easier to implement than others! This consideration brings readers to the focus of these "Guidelines"--How can school districts evaluate evidence of effectiveness? In the study of ed-tech procurement, school district stakeholders reported relying the most on four different categories of evidence to determine product effectiveness: (1) Recommendations from other school district peers or consultants; (2) Recommendations from end-users (teachers and principals); (3) Findings from "pilot tryouts"; and (4) Evidence from "rigorous" studies. The value of peer and end-user qualitative feedback is also recognized. Peers and end-users may lack concrete, scientific evidence to support particular products, but they certainly can offer thoughtful firsthand impressions of how the products were used in settings similar to those your district has targeted for ed-tech support. [Prepared for Digital Promise, which is working in partnership with the Education Industry Association.]
Center for Research and Reform in Education. Available from: School of Education Johns Hopkins University. 200 West Towsontown Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21204. Tel: 410-616-2407; Fax: 410-324-4444; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Guides - Non-Classroom; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Policymakers; Practitioners
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Johns Hopkins University, Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE)