When school districts made the rapid shift to online learning due to the pandemic, many educators scrambled to find the right mix of learning tools, apps, and platforms to support instruction.
As a result, more and more companies began offering online learning apps and products for free–often for a limited trial period. While free online resources can be useful, if left unvetted they can pose data security and privacy risks.
Evaluating the products, tools, and resources being used by staff and students is important, however time is not always on our side (as was the case at the beginning of the pandemic). My district, Mashpee Public Schools, leverages data to assess the safety and efficacy of free resources and identify what’s worth investing in. Here’s how we navigate the decision-making process.
Tip #1: Take an inventory of products and evaluate usage.
Over the past year, teachers have stepped up in enormous ways to support students, including finding new, creative ways to engage learners virtually. Parents and educators alike were interested in finding online resources they could use to support online learning.
Before investing in any new products, I recommend taking an inventory of the resources currently being used by every teacher, at every school site, and evaluating the usage. It’s also important to do a security check to make sure the product is safe to use.