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Measuring the ROI of Your Edtech Investment

How do you decide if a technology investment is worth its cost?

In the business world, the answer to this question is pretty cut and dry. If a product or service helps a company yield higher profits or directly supports revenue-generating activities that compensate for its cost, decision-makers will likely continue allocating budget to pay for it. But, if an investment doesn’t positively impact a company’s bottom line within a specified time frame, business leaders may opt to scrap it in favor of something else.

In the public education sector, assessing your return on investment (ROI) is a bit trickier. Instead of dipping into a corporate coffer, you’re leveraging public funds. And traditionally, K-12 schools are less focused on quantitative financial metrics like profits and losses and more concerned with downstream impacts like student success and faculty satisfaction, which can be more challenging to measure.

Evaluating your edtech investment by quantifying these abstract impacts isn’t always easy. But if you’re not measuring success in edtech, you won’t know whether or not you’re getting your money’s worth.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to effectively measure your edtech ROI.

Be Clear on Your “Why”

The first step toward calculating the ROI of your edtech investment is determining how you define success — and that requires all decision-makers to align on why you’ve invested in a solution.

Of course, not all decision-makers are as enthusiastic about edtech as others. Until you can prove its worth by demonstrating your edtech ROI, you have to make sure you’re clearly communicating its potential value.

Here are a few examples of why schools may choose to invest in an edtech platform:

  • Reduces teacher workloads

Mounting, unrealistic demands are driving many great educators to leave their jobs (and the entire profession), leaving districts across the country with faculty shortages. To stanch the bleed, school leaders should invest in edtech solutions designed to lighten teachers’ burdens and free up more time to engage with students.

Removing tedium from educators’ plates so they can spend more time doing what they love, and leave their workdays feeling more fulfilled, is one of the greatest benefits edtech can offer.

  • Enables personalized learning and student support

Every classroom hosts a broad spectrum of learners, which means it’s possible some students aren’t being challenged enough and others are in jeopardy of falling behind. But providing the custom learning experiences each student needs to master content and excel can be challenging — if not downright impossible — unless you leverage the right tech.

  • Helps educators meet standards and evolve their skills

Standards are evolving, and it's up to teachers to ensure they have the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver content that meets state and district requirements. Although many schools offer professional development, educators may still wish to augment that learning with additional practical, relevant and actionable guidance. 

However, the right edtech can ensure teachers have the support they need to master new standards and keep students engaged. For example, Propello embeds guidance within each lesson and unit to help educators apply new teaching approaches relevant to the specific content they’re covering. As a result, teachers can consistently expand their proficiencies — even when they don’t have the time or resources to pursue advanced degrees.

Every edtech platform offers a unique set of advantages, but understanding and documenting your investment’s potential value will help you determine what you should examine to measure ROI.

Identify Realistic Short and Long-Term Expectations

In addition to clarifying the value you anticipate your investment delivering for your school, you also need to define your expectations. And to keep expectations realistic, it’s crucial you recognize what’s possible in the near term and which objectives may take longer to fulfill.

For example, it may take several months for an edtech investment to impact assessment scores, but it might boost educator satisfaction in just a few weeks. Or, while you may not see significant improvements in efficiency metrics for at least an entire semester, you may find that collaboration between teachers happens nearly immediately.

When setting expectations, it’s also essential you factor in the solution’s rollout process, teachers’ technology learning curves, and whether or not the provider offers support beyond implementation. No matter how robust your chosen edtech platform is, no solution can generate results overnight.

Get Creative with Your Metrics and Be Consistent

Organizations in the corporate sector often calculate ROI by dividing the profit an investment generated by its initial cost, then multiplying that by 100. For example, if a tech solution cost a company $5,000 and generates a $15,000 profit in one quarter, its ROI for that period would be 300% (or 3x the initial investment).

But, because schools don’t define success in terms of monetary profit, calculating an academic return on investment requires creativity.

In addition to easy-to-quantify metrics like test scores and teacher turnover, here are a few examples of key performance indicators (KPIs) you might consider when evaluating edtech impact:

  • Students’ confidence, behavior patterns, and academic plans
  • Students’ problem-solving skills and creativity
  • Classroom depth of discussion and astuteness of students’ questions
  • Educators’ satisfaction and level of fulfillment
  • Educators’ preparation and quality of planning time

Once you’ve selected your metrics, determine how you’ll gather data. For some of the more abstract KPIs, you might field student and teacher surveys or interview teachers and students and rate their responses using a scale or rubric. Whatever you decide, be sure to remain consistent so you can easily compare metrics over time.

Unlike a facility or tangible piece of equipment that only needs occasional maintenance, technology is an ongoing expense. To ensure you’re getting the best buck for the funds you allocate, it’s vital you keep a close eye on your edtech investment. By carefully tracking its ROI, you can ensure your technology delivers a positive and worthwhile impact on students and the hardworking teachers educating them.