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[Edtech Evaluation] 3 Reasons to Pilot an Online Program Before Purchasing

[Edtech Evaluation] 3 Reasons to Pilot an Online Program Before Purchasing

The right online programs for assessment, personalized learning, and digital curriculum can go a long way toward helping students meet academic goals and freeing up teachers to provide critical one-on-one instruction. On the other hand, the wrong programs can be a drain on everyone’s valuable time. So, when your school or district is in the process of evaluating new online programs, how do you know you’re making the right decision?

The short answer is that you simply never can be completely sure until after a program has been implemented and has had time to take effect. Given the unique set of student demographics, challenges, goals, and needs every school and district work under, it’s never easy to know which program will be a good fit for your students.

Now, for the good news: piloting a program under serious consideration can be a great way to get a hands-on, real-life feel for how an actual implementation will go. It can be an effective way to take (a lot of) the mystery out of that charged question of: “Will this actually work?”

At Edmentum, we’ve recently started offering educators the option to pilot our programs as part of our commitment to be a true partner. Basically, pilots offer schools and districts the chance to fully implement our Courseware, Study Island, or Exact Path online programs for up to an entire school year at no charge outside of the cost of training sessions. Instead of making big (and expensive) decisions based on a few conversations and a demo or two, our pilot partners are able to base their decisions on thoughtful educator feedback, concrete data, and most importantly, actual student outcomes.

Sounding too good to be true? It’s not; we just believe it’s the right thing to do to support educators and students. If you’re looking for new online programs for the classroom, here are the top three reasons we believe that schools and districts should consider a pilot:

1. Prove efficacy and usability

Instead of a quick test-drive, a pilot feels much more like a true implementation. By using a program on an ongoing basis, students and educators can get truly familiar with it, understand its navigation, and fully explore its features. Pilots offer the time needed to truly unlock a program’s potential, as well as sniff out all of the pain points. Best of all, sustained use leads to meaningful student data. You won’t have to rely on other schools’ or districts’ stories to determine if this program can move the needle. Instead, you’ll have your own student outcomes to inform your decision, paired with the anecdotal feedback of both your students and teachers.

2. Focus on training and relationship building

When implementing new edtech, you don’t just want a vendor—you want a partner. Piloting a program allows you to vet that aspect of partnership in addition to the program features. You can engage in full-scale training sessions with implementation consultants who take the time to get to know your school or district understand your unique challenges and goals, and show you how best to make use of the program. You’ll have the opportunity for ongoing discussions about whether the piloted program is meeting your needs and whether it’s truly the right fit for your situation. Not only will this improve your understanding of the program, but also it will allow you to get to firsthand experience of the kind of broader support you can expect from the vendor. Just like effective teaching, successful edtech programs are built on the foundation of strong relationships.

3. Save money

With a pilot program, not only do you get long-term access to an online program at no cost, but you also make sure that any dollars you do ultimately spend on it are well-placed. Piloting removes the risk of signing a contract on something that doesn’t get used or doesn’t produce the outcomes your school or district needs. It ensures that when the time does come to actually make a purchase, you’ll be able to purchase a program that administrators, teachers, and students feel comfortable with; design a contract that truly meets your needs; and continue partnering with a vendor you trust. That kind of thoughtful spending will pay off, and it should be well-received by all stakeholders.

Edtech evaluation will never be a simple process. Piloting a new program requires more commitment and effort than the standard series of planning and sales meetings, but in the long term, the positive effects on student outcomes and cost savings make it well worthwhile.

Interested in piloting one of Edmentum’s online programs for assessment, personalized learning, or digital curriculum? Fill out this form, and we’ll be in touch!