Edtech Procurement & Adoption - Challenge Map
Challenge Map

Technology & Network Infrastructure

Edtech Procurement & Adoption

The Challenge

Districts face numerous challenges related to the selection, integration, evaluation, and procurement of educational technologies. An overwhelming number of available edtech products are heavily marketed to district leaders and educators alike, and they can be difficult and time consuming to sort through. Digital products vary in terms of the investment of time and money required for implementation, and existing procurement policies are sometimes more relevant for a print-based economy. In many schools, individual teachers select and adopt products for their classrooms, even as leaders are seeking more efficient and standardized ways to manage adoption. Further, the evidence base for products varies from non-existent to substantial, yet It is difficult to know whether or not a product is appropriate for a particular context, especially when considering the significant number of other potential factors that could impact student achievement. While many districts strive to conduct formal pilots, it can be challenging to gather evidence in order to make informed decisions about which products to adopt and scale.

In the Words of District Leaders

Making the right decisions about the kinds of technology that you have in your classrooms and the kinds of software decisions you make, it has to work for teachers. You have to make their lives easier, not harder. I think some initial rounds with some technology ended up making things harder for teachers... All teachers want to see their kids do well and do better, so I think one of the challenges is ‘are we making the right choices?

“Part of the challenge, I think, is the volume of tech resources and, you know, edtech companies that are out there, kind of jockeying for that space. And then processes — that we have some of and others that we’re missing — to be able to access and vet and evaluate what works best. But then the accompanying research base that says, ‘this is the right tool and the right choice and here’s the research behind it.’ And I know companies vary, but overall I would say that they don’t do a very good job of building the case associated with the research and metrics that are compelling.”

Ideas from the Field

  • Districts report using internal analytics to track and assess edtech product usage, and then conduct cost-benefit analyses from those data.
  • Many districts are engaging with teachers on both the effectiveness of current programs and to identify gaps where new products could be useful.


Check out the following research-based resources for more information about edtech procurement and adoption:

Edtech Pilot Framework – From Digital Promise, the Edtech Pilot Framework provides a step-by-step process to help education leaders and technology developers run successful educational technology pilots. Check out each step to hear from district leaders, learn helpful tips, and find relevant tools and resources.

Learning Assembly Piloting Toolkit – In this toolkit, educators can access a wide range of resources from Learning Assembly organizations to support their pilots from start to finish: from pilot planning, to supporting implementation, to reporting results.

Conditions for Success & Scale: Technology Infrastructure – This topic page of The Learning Accelerator’s Blended & Personalized Learning at Work website offers 20 specific strategies on topics like Connectivity, Hardware, Procurement, Data Interoperability, Security, and Data Privacy.

EdTech Rapid Cycle Evaluation Coach – This free tool was funded by the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education and developed by Mathematica Policy Research in partnership with SRI, International, Concentric Research and Evaluation, and Cooper. The tool helps schools evaluate educational technology use to make better, more informed decisions and improve student outcomes.

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