27% of Edtech Product Licenses Go Unused: LearnPlatform Report

By Henry Kronk
November 20, 2019

Education technology is used widely in schools and districts across the U.S. Collectively, U.S. K-12 education spends more than $12 billion every year on edtech licenses. But on average, 27% of an edtech product’s licenses are never activated or used.

That’s according to analysis from LearnPlatform, an edtech effectiveness system that aims to measure and inform schools about their use of technology. On November 20, the company released their annual usage trends report.

LearnPlatform and Measuring the Usage of Edtech Licenses

The report represents data from a mix of schools, districts, states, and charter networks that teach roughly 70,000 learners. Among this body, it tracks the usage of 11 “well-known digital math and literacy tools that all involved direct and indirect costs.”

In other words, the report is not nationally representative, but instead, focuses exclusively on these 11 tools as they are used among and by these 70,000 learners.

On the flip side of the coin, 16% of the schools and districts surveyed made full use of their edtech licenses. That might sound damning and reflect poorly on schools. But LearnPlatform Co-Founder and CEO Karl Rectanus says that achieving 100% is logistically very difficult, and that there are many reasons why a school might fail to activate a license.

“The proliferation of edtech tools broadly can be overwhelming — districts access over 700 different products every month,” Rectanus said. “This can be overwhelming to make sure each is used to full potential.  Other challenges may include lack of clear alignment with curriculum or instructional goals, lack of awareness that the tool is even available, and competing needs in and across classrooms. LearnPlatform equips districts to organize all their edtech, streamline processes to address these challenges, and rapidly analyze during the year — not just after the fact — to improve implementations, outcomes and their budgets. This gives districts the information they need to make better decisions moving forward.”

Rectanus says that LearnPlatform operates as an “edtech effectiveness system.” It has the ability to track and record edtech usage across schools and districts.

LearnPlatfom has been tracking usage of edtech licenses since 2015. The company says that things have slowly improved. Their sample size and scope was more narrow when they began preparing these reports. But in 2015, their respondents said that 37% of licenses went unactivated and unused.

A Few Factors Have Fed this Trend

According to the report, a few different trends are driving this shift. One of them has been the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The law includes stipulations that schools provide more accountability for how and if Title I- and Title IV-funded expenditures lead to measurable outcomes.

Other factors include getting past the growing pains associated with transitioning to a digital learning ecosystem.

The report states: “As textbooks wane and software explodes, local education agencies’ technology and curriculum/instruction departments are working together to eliminate digital ecosystem headaches for easier use of edtech in the classroom.”

On top of this LearnPlatform also says that a majority of states have increased student privacy protections beyond federal regulations. These bring about a climate in which “the need to know, manage, and ensure is no longer just a ‘back office’ issue.”

Featured Image: Geronimo Giqueaux, Unsplash.