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ISTE and Project Unicorn Release Buying Guide to Help Educators Make Better Technology Purchasing Decisions

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March 7, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas – March 6, 2019 – Technology is transforming education through the ability to personalize learning, access real-time data and empower students with the tools to be problem-solvers. With access to broadband in classrooms reaching 98 percent, schools are rapidly adopting new tools and apps to increase opportunities for learning. Despite the dramatic increase of technology adoption in schools, there has been very little training or support provided to make sure those making purchasing decisions are effective. To provide more insight and guidance into how edtech purchasing happens and consider how educators and leaders can work together to make more informed purchasing decisions, the International Society for Technology in Education and Project Unicorn have released Better Edtech Buying for Educators: A Practical Guide.

In an increasingly complex digital landscape, educators and staff responsible for purchasing decisions have a lot to consider, including questions like: Will a particular app meet our learning goals? Will it work with our school’s infrastructure? Does it comply with data privacy laws? Does it complement existing tools? And, how do I get my data out of the tool to inform teaching and learning? The Guide was developed specifically with educators and district leaders in mind to provide practical steps for more-informed edtech decision making.

“Every year, billions of dollars are spent in the U.S. on edtech solutions for schools. The question is, are those dollars being spent in the way that will best serve students?” said ISTE Chief Learning Officer Joseph South. “Only when district leaders and classroom educators work together in a thoughtful, inclusive, and well-informed partnership can we turn these purchases into powerful investments in our students’ future.”

The guide is organized into five categories, helping to improve collaboration between educators and district leaders with real-life examples for each section:

  1. Alignment with student learning goals and standards
  2. Importance of research and evidence
  3. Data interoperability and student privacy
  4. Challenges of implementation, use and ongoing support
  5. Educators as purchasing partners

Project Unicorn, an InnovateEDU initiative, and ISTE are committed to providing resources to support procurement partnerships between educators and leaders as well as facilitating meaningful conversations with vendors. 

“The average school district uses more than 568 edtech applications every year. The question is what works and how can the apps be improved to better serve teachers and students?” said InnovateEDU Executive Director Erin Mote. “This buying guide focuses on key considerations in procurement - from privacy to interoperability to integrating research and evidence that can accelerate best practice and better consumer awareness. Technology will never replace a great teacher, but we can invest in the tools that strengthen learning outcomes.”

The Better Edtech Buying for Educators: A Practical Guide was made possible with the support of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The Guide will be released at SXSWedu at the Wonka, Unicorns, & the Interoperability Imperative Meet Up on March 6 at 3:30-4:30 p.m. CST at the Hilton Austin Downtown Room #602.


About ISTE
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a nonprofit organization that works with the global education community to accelerate the use of technology to solve tough problems and inspire innovation. Our worldwide network believes in the potential technology holds to transform teaching and learning.
ISTE sets a bold vision for education transformation through the ISTE Standards, a framework for students, educators, administrators, coaches and computer science educators to rethink education and create innovative learning environments. ISTE hosts the annual ISTE Conference & Expo, one of the world’s most influential edtech events. The organization’s professional learning offerings include online courses, professional networks, year-round academies, peer-reviewed journals and other publications. ISTE is also the leading publisher of books focused on technology in education. For more information or to become an ISTE member, visit Subscribe to ISTE’s YouTube channel and connect with ISTE on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Project Unicorn
Project Unicorn is an effort to improve data interoperability within K–12 education. We aim to create a community of innovators who make the broader case for secure interoperability by determining shared priorities, working in partnership with school systems and vendors to understand its importance and benefits, creating a demand-side push for interoperability through partnerships, and educating buyers to consider the total cost of ownership through informed comparison of vendors.  For more information about Project Unicorn, visit or connect with Project Unicorn on Twitter at @projunicorn.