- School districts used an average of 2,591 different ed tech tools in the 2022-23 school year, up slightly from 2,547 the previous year, according to a report from Instructure’s LearnPlatform, an ed tech company that helps districts research and choose digital learning products.
- While the overall number of ed tech tools used by districts is trending upward, the average number of unique tools students accessed dipped from 52 in 2021-22 to 42 in 2022-23, LearnPlatform found. For educators, the number also dropped, from 49 tools in 2021-22 to 42 in 2022-23.
- Learner-centric tools continue to be the most commonly accessed, making up 58% of ed tech tools used in 2022-23, according to the report. The top 40 ed tech tools districts tap into hasn't changed over the last seven years.
The LearnPlatform report illuminates specifics behind how ed tech use dramatically rose since the COVID-19 pandemic began during the 2019-20 school year.
The year before, districts used an average of just 895 tools, the report found. As schools had to quickly pivot from in-person to remote learning in the second half of the 2019-20 school year, the number of tech tools used by districts skyrocketed to 2,263. And the numbers used have steadily increased since then.
While the overall volume is rising at the district level, the report said, “a closer look at individual usage appears to indicate that students and teachers are finding the tools that best suit their personal needs.”
Meanwhile, with more ed tech tools in use, districts may be more vulnerable to cybersecurity risks and data breaches. Accordingly, LearnPlatform said, there has also been a shift in focus to using more data security tools.
A study by researchers at the University of Chicago and New York University found nearly all top ed tech sites use “extensive” tracking technologies that can put districts at greater risk of cyberthreats. Another report, from Internet Safety Labs, found 96% of apps used or recommended by schools share students’ personal information with third parties.
The LearnPlatform report recommends organizations prioritize cybersecurity and privacy. It advises district leaders to take inventory of tech tools used by teachers and students, rooting out any unapproved tools. Leaders should also ensure tools comply with local, state and federal privacy laws, the report said.
LearnPlatform suggested district leaders build student data privacy and security checks as they buy and vet tools. It’s also crucial to form a “community of stakeholders” focused on protecting student privacy, according to the report.
Schools often lack resources to handle a cyberattack, and they particularly struggle to find dedicated staff on cybersecurity issues. But states like Texas, Minnesota and others are beginning to fund efforts to bolster cybersecurity in school districts, too.