With the rapid expansion of 1:1 device programs, new learning apps, and tools from previous years, district teams need answers fast. How do you optimize your edtech investments? Do you know which unapproved apps are being used in your district? How do you prioritize professional development? Finding the answers to these questions could take hours, days, or weeks without the right tools in place.
In fact, the estimated time it takes to evaluate a learning app is one hour. Now, multiply that one hour across the thousands of learning apps in the district app library. According to Lightspeed’s evaluation of app usage data from 100 schools across the United States in 2022, most districts have more than 2,000 apps in use across their student population. This means district admins can spend up to 2,000 hours manually reviewing apps each year.
“Like most districts, our use of educational apps exploded two years ago, and now we’re faced with a monumental task of maintaining data security, conducting reviews and approvals, and ensuring curriculum quality. With even fewer staff resources,” says Eric Hileman, Executive Director of Information Technology Services for Oklahoma City Public Schools. “The visibility, control, and context provided by Lightspeed Digital Insight makes it possible to do that at scale and still have the time we need to support our teachers and students.”
Continue reading to learn how Lightspeed Digital Insight can answer questions and more within minutes.
1. Where is all the data and can we trust it?
Collecting and centralizing edtech application usage data across an entire school district is complex and time-consuming and requires resources that curriculum and instructional technology teams often lack. Having the data in one place is important but means nothing if it’s incomplete or inaccurate. Accurate and comprehensive data is essential for understanding student usage, yet other providers only analyze local app libraries, leading to incomplete or skewed data.
Lightspeed Digital Insight provides admins with comprehensive, accurate data from their entire network in one place. Lightspeed’s device-level agents pull activity data from every operating system (OS) and browser on the district network, eliminating the need for manual effort and planning. This single source of data is updated in near real-time, providing admins with reliable, up-to-date insights and enabling them to make informed decisions about how best to support students’ learning.
Shareable and customizable dashboards allow multiple departments to work off the same data set—the “source of truth”. Teams can have productive discussions and make informed decisions on licensing, professional development priorities, and digital access issues as reporting also show device usage by location.
2. What apps are getting the most usage and engagement?
Gathering data on the top apps used across a school sounds like an easy task, but, unfortunately, it often isn’t. Reporting and data collection are time-consuming, cumbersome, and often inaccurate when done manually. However, with the right data analytics software in place, this information can be readily available at a moment’s notice during any district leadership meeting.
Lightspeed Digital Insight’s Trending Applications dashboard provides administrators with a comprehensive overview of applications used across their network and devices, across all operating systems, captured by Lightspeed’s SmartAgent technology. Admins can quickly identify the most used apps overall, across campuses, or by grade level, and compare app usage metrics by categories like math or STEM. Review app licensing costs and gain more insights to determine how much value the app is providing. The application library includes over 5,000 apps categorized by National Center for Education (NCES) categories, helping to make comparisons easier.
3. Are we seeing value from this app?
When it comes to determining the value of an app, there’s not a clear-cut answer. It is important to consider a variety of factors, such as the grade level or subject the app supports, the cost of the app, usage data, and whether the district is meeting its adoption goals. The district should take all these data points into consideration, so they can make an informed decision on whether the app is providing the desired value.
4. Is the published list of apps on our website updated? Do we even have a published list of apps?
Most districts publish a list of approved applications for teaching and learning at the beginning of the school year. However, as teachers find new and free apps that support their needs, maintaining the approved list can be challenging. While IT leaders want to give teachers the freedom to try new resources, maintaining app usage, approvals, and compliance becomes a balancing act. IT leaders need an easier way to compile all approved apps and ensure that they are up-to-date and accurate.
Lightspeed Digital Insight provides administrators with an easier way to compile and keep an accurate up-to-date list of approved apps. It offers features such as customized lists for different user groups, real-time updates to ensure accuracy, and the ability to integrate with existing SIS and third-party application directory sources so admins always have the most current information on learning apps. Additionally, administrators can easily review and approve apps, as well as track usage and user feedback then export that list into a Google sheet, CSV, PDF, or PNG for easy distribution.
5. Are all the apps being used in alignment with district data privacy policies?
Districts must be vigilant about protecting data privacy and being aware of the data privacy policies for the apps they are using is essential. However, keeping up to date with changes to these policies can be a challenge. That’s why it’s important to have full visibility of all applications being used across the school or district and understand when those policies change.
Learn how Lightspeed Digital Insight can help with your district’s security and compliance, and student engagement initiatives. Request a demo today.
About the Author
Kate McDermott is a Senior Product Manager at Lightspeed Digital Insight and is passionate about leveraging technology to improve the lives of children and educators, with an emphasis on increasing equity and engagement for students. She has over 8 years of experience in product and technology, and previously worked on public health campaigns and initiatives to improve outcomes for kids.