Classroom Technology

3 Ways to Avoid Big Ed-Tech Mistakes

By Lauraine Langreo — July 26, 2023 3 min read
Top View of an Elementary School Classroom: Children Sitting at their School Desks Using Personal Computers and Digital Tablets for Assignments.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

School districts have heavily invested in educational technology, especially over the past few years.

In fact, schools used an average of 2,591 different ed-tech tools in the 2022-23 school year, according to a report from LearnPlatform, an ed-tech company that helps districts measure the use and effectiveness of digital products. In the 2018-19 school year, schools used an average of 895 different ed-tech tools.

But educators are not uniformly satisfied with the ed-tech tools they use. An EdWeek Research Center survey conducted in December asked educators about the worst or most misguided use of ed tech they have experienced in their careers. The most common responses point to a big-picture problem with the use of educational technology: Its use is often inappropriate and/or ineffective.

In a June 22 Education Week K-12 Essentials Forum, Education Week Deputy Managing Editor Kevin Bushweller moderated a discussion with Digital Promise Senior Director of Information Technology Diane Doersch and the San Antonio district’s Chief Information Technology Officer Eva Mendoza about how to use technology effectively to improve instruction.

Here are three tips gleaned from that discussion:

1. Involve all stakeholders from the beginning

One of the biggest mistakes school districts make when implementing technology tools is “not involving the right stakeholders from the beginning,” Mendoza said.

District leaders need to ensure that the people who are going to use the technology are at the table when the district is evaluating new products. Otherwise those new tools won’t be used properly or effectively, Mendoza said.

See Also

Cartoon style illustration of two arrows that missed the target on a laptop screen.

In the San Antonio district, Mendoza established a committee with representation from teachers, principals, students, and parents to sit with the district technology staff to evaluate products. The district technology staff also provided a sample classroom setup so everyone could see what each offering would look like in practice and provide feedback.

Doersch emphasized that getting feedback from stakeholders will make them feel like they have been heard and that the decision “isn’t done to them, it is done with them.”

2. Ensure collaboration between technology and academic teams

Digital devices and software should only be used in instances where they enhance learning, Doersch said.

To do that, the technology team should work closely with the academic team so that the tools are “interwoven into the academics, into every lesson,” Mendoza said.

Together, these teams should think about what learning gaps need to be filled and how technology can be leveraged to fill those gaps, the panelists said.

3. Provide adequate professional development

Another big mistake districts make is purchasing and setting up digital tools without first training the teachers who are supposed to use those technologies, the panelists pointed out.

With any new digital technology or software, teachers should have the opportunity to play with and explore the tool first, Doersch said.

See Also

Illustration of laptop with checklist on the screen
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty

It’s also important to ensure that the professional development opportunities to integrate those tools into instruction are relevant to what the teacher needs for their classroom, Mendoza said.

For instance, in San Antonio, teachers fill out a baseline assessment to see where they are in terms of their technology skills. From there, teachers can select one technology tool that they want to use in the classroom and then focus on incorporating that specific tool into instruction.

It’s also good to provide different options for teachers to receive their professional development, whether it’s virtual or in-person or asynchronous, so they can choose what best fits their needs, she added.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Personalized Learning Webinar
Expanding Teacher Impact: Scaling Personalized Learning Across Districts
Explore personalized learning strategies that transform classrooms and empower educators.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Monitoring or Blocking What Students Do Online Poses All Kinds of Problems
Schools need to do a better job examining the downsides of monitoring students online behavior and blocking internet content, says a report.
4 min read
Photo of high school student in classroom using tablet computers.
E+ / Getty
Classroom Technology Opinion How ‘Innovative’ Ed Tech Actually Reinforces Convention
Alfie Kohn warns that tech executives and other leaders aren't asking the important questions about teaching and learning.
Alfie Kohn
4 min read
Illustration of school children being helped out of a black box by their teacher. Inside the black box is their classroom full of education technology.
Robert Neubecker for Education Week
Classroom Technology Opinion Educators, Not Companies, Should Shape Educational AI
Educators, students, and families should shape learning-focused AI's values and capabilities, says a letter to the editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Classroom Technology Schools Want Guidance on AI Use in Classrooms. States Are Not Providing It, Report Says
The lack of guidance is coming at a time when the use of AI is expanding in education.
2 min read
Photo of student using laptop.
iStock / Getty Images Plus