Educational institutions are not typically on the bleeding edge of technological adoption.This has begun to change in recent years, as educational institutions embrace the digital transformation that has swept through every industry.
The increased engagement has spurred a massive increase in edtech investment, as global private investment in learning technology went from $2.4 billion in 2014 to $9.5 billion in 2017. Companies have recognized the business opportunity in the industry and investment levels have begun to reflect that.
How to Make the Case to Buy Educational Software
The business world has recognized the value of EdTech, but what about the education industry? There is real value to be gained from EdTech implementation, and the first step to understanding that value is to look to your competitors. Your rival school is thriving.
Soaring test scores, high student engagement levels, happy teachers, and a general sense of upward momentum. You can see it, but you can’t see the difference between your institution and theirs. What can you do to reach their level and ideally surpass it? Implement cutting edge education software.
To implement an education solution, there are several hurdles you must clear, with the most significant being buy-in from the administration. Even if you’re involved in the administration of the school, soliciting buy-in from the highest levels is often difficult.
You need a solution that suits the specific needs of your educational institution, falls within an acceptable cost range, and provides real demonstrable value to students, teachers, and administrators. The first issue to tackle is identifying what your school needs because technology can help everywhere – even in physical education classes.
What Does Your School Need?
What difficulties does your institution face? If you’re part of a higher education institution having difficulties converting prospective students into applicants, you should look into admissions and enrollment management software. If you’re a K–12 institution with known difficulties in classroom management, you should look into classroom management software. Online schools searching for a piece of software to distribute learning materials and run academic functions in a central location will want to research suitable learning management system (LMS) software. There are even library management solutions designed to help you effectively manage your library of physical and digital content. There are a wealth of distinct categories of solutions out there, so to ensure that you’ve chosen the correct category, you should address the following.
Institution level – Are you a higher education or K–12 institution? Most solutions are designed specifically for one type of school or the other.
Institution size – The size of your institution will be a significant factor in determining a suitable solution. Certain solutions are geared toward smaller, single-location institutions, while others may be a fit for a larger, potentially global school.
Cloud or on-premise – On-premise installation is becoming more or less a thing of the past, but there are still solutions in existence that offer on-premise installation. Ask yourself whether on-premise is crucial to your institution. If there is a fully fledged cloud version of the product, the best bet is to go with that.
On-premise installation refers to installing the software locally, on the institutions’ local computers and servers. Cloud-based software, or SaaS, is hosted on the software vendor’s servers. The institution accesses the application via the web.
Existing software – Take inventory of your existing solutions. Are there any ways to squeeze more value out of your existing solutions? There may be additional functionalities that you’re not utilizing, either because you were never made aware of their existence or they’re an entirely new feature.
Integrations – What existing software will you need the new piece of software to integrate with? You may not realize how much software you’re currently using, so take inventory of your core systems and catalog precisely which applications you’ll need the next piece of software to integrate with.
Even after answering the above, you should drill down to the core reason driving you to research and select a piece of education software. Are you just looking for something new? Is there really a need for a new piece of software? Is there a free solution that may solve every issue you’re currently experiencing? If you must purchase something new, is what you’re going to be using the software for one of the core competencies of the application, or is its main purpose something else? Writing down exactly what you need the software to accomplish will clarify your needs and ultimately make your selection easier to implement.
Related: Choosing the right technology to fit your institution can be tricky. Discover the top education technology trends to see what's working for schools like yours.
What Type of Educational Software Should You Buy?
There are thousands of educational software products on the market, making it difficult to sift through and decide which ones are applicable to your specific situation. Below are some of the more common types and a high level overview of what problems they solve.
Admissions and enrollment management software – Solutions in this category are suitable for either K–12 or higher education institutions, though they tend to be geared primarily toward those in higher education. You should implement a solution in this category if you’re looking to gain more insight into your prospective student/applicant funnel, beef up marketing efforts, streamline admissions actions, or analyze your admissions and enrollment processes to improve them.
Learning management systems– You should install an LMS if you’re an online institution or a physical institution looking to augment their on-campus resources by adding online content access.
Classroom management software – You should be looking at classroom management solutions if you’re a teacher who needs a way to implement technology in the classroom while eliminating student distractions, track student progress more easily, or foster student collaboration in the classroom.
Online learning platform software – Solutions in this category provide online schools and teachers with the means to create, curate, and sell courses online. These solutions are generally not used by more traditional educational institutions, as those institutions are not usually selling content.
Student information systems – Probably the most widely used education software solutions, student information systems house all relevant student data. These solutions can have a wide range of functionality, from data analytics to communication and marketing tools. Every educational institution should have a good SIS. They eliminate the need for paper records and streamline a variety of tedious administrative processes.
Virtual classroom software – Virtual classroom solutions create and manage an online teaching environment. You should look into virtual classroom solutions if you host online classes or are an online institution.
School resource management software– This category of education software is often confused with SIS solutions. The difference lies in what types of data each system is handling. SIS handle student data, while school resource management software primarily handles facilities, transportation, maintenance, and lodging data. There is generally some overlap, as most school resource management solutions will house some student data as well, but the functionality is not nearly as built out as it is within an SIS.
How to Choose the Best Educational Software
There are multiple ways to go about researching potential solutions. Combing through user-generated reviews is vital to any comprehensive research strategy in this day and age. Parsing reviews will give you a better idea of how actual users are getting on with the software and can help cut through the sales pitches that omit any holes in functionality or negative aspects of specific solutions. G2 Crowd has thousands of unbiased education software reviews for you to take a look at during your research.
Patrick is the manager for the verticals and tech teams as well as G2's fintech and legaltech senior analyst. As a G2 analyst, Patrick focuses primarily on the fintech and legaltech spaces in addition to a slate of other vertical categories. Fintech's explosion in popularity has created a compelling challenge to accurately represent the spaces on G2 and produce high-quality, relevant content for external consumption. Patrick leverages his relationships with vendors, the unique data that G2 has accrued via more than 1 million user-generated reviews, market surveys, and product data to produce insightful reports and thought leadership content within his two focus spaces.