Nearly all schools ramped up technology purchases during the pandemic out of necessity. In 2020, the North American education technology and smart-classroom market was estimated at $36 billion — that’s big money!

But as we move beyond emergency purchases, it’s essential to tune out the market noise and establish a deliberate plan, says Vincent Routhier in an article for District Administration.

From investigation through implementation, here are some of his tips for choosing the best tools:

  1. Start from first principles: Before thinking about products, consider your goals and values. Why are you looking to buy new technology? What technology gaps are most problematic for your school? What professional and pedagogical values should drive your decision?
  2. Involve key stakeholders: Technology acquisition is a group activity. Rather than delegate the decision to a single department, invite input from teachers, IT staff and others who can bring different perspectives and who will be called on to implement the new tools.
  3. Choose substance over style: Look for technology that has the qualities, and the level of quality, that works for you. Don’t be driven by marketing and trends; the product that best suits your school’s unique needs may not be flashy or fashionable.
  4. Think long-term outcomes: Consider how your school’s needs will evolve over time. Once you settle on a solution, your colleagues and students will have to live with it for years. The bigger the purchase, the longer it needs to last.
  5. Prioritize student engagement: Choose technology that will increase your students’ attention, interest and inspiration. Technology that engages students will increase their motivation and enhance their progress.
  6. Adopt a whole-child perspective: Seek out solutions that engage all aspects of students’ personal development. While academic performance is an essential metric, aim for outcomes that will benefit students physically, intellectually and socially-emotionally.
  7. Factor in diversity and equity: Think about how your technology purchase will help your entire student body. Students of different ages, backgrounds and abilities will engage with technology in different and surprising ways.
  8. Remember safety and security: Vet every new technology’s safety and security profile in order to minimize the risk of physical injuries, malware and other potential dangers.
  9. Train your professionals: Once you purchase new technology, maximize its utility by ensuring that every professional who engages with it is adequately trained in its use. If relevant, factor training into the total cost of your technology acquisition.