Rightsizing School Technology: Throwing Out Rogue, Risky, and Redundant EdTech Apps

District IT leaders face an ongoing challenge: managing their ever-expanding tech stack. According to our 2024 EdTech App Report, the average school district has more than 2,000 edtech applications in use during the school year.

There are many good reasons for educators to use a variety of learning technologies. Even outside of assessment or intervention, providing different and interesting ways for students to engage in content areas is beneficial to young minds and may help keep engagement high. But what was uncovered in this most recent report is that many of the apps that are showing up are barely used. In fact, 99% of usage is concentrated in just over 300 applications, or 15 percent.

To IT teams, the administrative overhead required to review and assess if a learning application meets district guidelines is the same, regardless of how much or little an application is used. It’s also crucial to look at usage data across schools, grades, and other subgroups to ensure that highly adopted apps that are important to smaller groups of students are not overlooked. With limited resources, more districts are taking a sharp look at what they are using, determining if the investment is worthwhile and how to put more rigor around chaos. This is where Lightspeed comes in with tools to that provide a real-time pulse on application usage, approval status, and ROI. We call it the “Three R Framework”.

The Three “Rs” Approach to Simplifying EdTech Overload

To optimize rightsizing efforts, focus on identifying and removing the three “Rs” from your EdTech app portfolio:

  1. Rogue Apps: These unapproved apps often catch IT leaders by surprise. They were never fully vetted before use and may be duplicative, pose risks to security, or not align to school or district curriculum guidelines. Get a list together and start there.
  2. Risky Apps: Data privacy and security are critical for districts, so it’s important to know what is on your network— at all times. Let’s note the importance of that last phrase, at all times. Many schools and districts conduct sporatic ‘suveys’ or ‘inventories’ of apps in use, but this isn’t enough to reduce risk. A December 2022 report revealed that 96% of school apps share student data with third parties, and 28% expose students to advertising. K-12 districts must thoroughly evaluate and approve apps to align with policies. Schools face increasing risks of cyberattacks, including costly ransomware incidents. The K-12 Cyber Incident Map highlights 1,619 cybersecurity-related incidents reported from 2016 to 2022. Vigilance is essential to protect your district’s technology infrastructure. It only takes a few users using an app for a short amount of time to pose risk to all.
  3. ROI of Apps: Does your district have systems in place to efficiently understand usage of high priority tools? Can your district identify how many learning applications are in use for reading, science, math skills, and which apps are most used? Supporting multiple apps with similar functions may be necessary but without proper evaluation it often wastes resources. While some apps are free, many are not. Tight budgets necessitate identifying unused and redundant edtech applications. Surprisingly, of the over 2,000 apps in use in the average school district, fewer than 100 apps account for 95% of all app engagement.
Man panicked in bed worrying about AI

See The 3Rs in Action

Remember, rightsizing isn’t just about cutting costs; it’s about finding the right balance for secure, efficient, and effective educational technology. It’s also about ensuring your educational technology supports your districts equity and instructional goals while still maintaining fiscal responsibility. 

Save your seat for our May 23 webinar, Tame Your Edtech Overload: A 3R Framework, to unlock strategies to right-size your edtech ecosystem and how Lightspeed Digital Insight can help.