“Tool sprawl”—too many edtech tools—can waste funds and cause districts to miss important learning opportunities

3 ways IT teams can manage tool sprawl


“Tool sprawl”—too many edtech tools—can waste funds and cause districts to miss important learning opportunities

Since schools transitioned to remote learning, districts have added or upgraded their IT education technology and monitoring tools to provide better outcomes for all. But it’s not necessarily a good thing. The saturation of edtech tools may be leading to wasted money, inefficiencies, and missed opportunities.

The reality of tool sprawl in the U.S. education system

In 2020, the deployment of edtech tools in schools increased by nearly 90 percent year-over-year. In Washington, D.C. alone, public schools spent $2.48 million of their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds (almost half) on software tools that facilitate learning. 

Districts are also investing heavily in monitoring tools. A survey by 451 Research found the average IT and security team uses between 10 and 30 monitoring tools for applications, network infrastructures, and cloud environments.

This spend looks set to continue. The American Rescue Plan includes $168.1 billion in funds for distance learning, networking, and other solutions to support K-20 pandemic recovery. With such a heavy reliance on technology, tool sprawl seems almost inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are three things school districts must consider before falling into the trap of adding more applications or monitoring components to their IT systems.

1. Commission or decommission?

It’s tempting to invest in the latest shiny new solution. But instead of rushing to commission more apps, tough decisions must be made about where opportunities exist to contain the application environment, rather than continue to saturate it.

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