Education technology (edtech) has grown steadily over the past decade, with products encompassing a range of applications, among them learning management systems (LMSs), skill development engines, content libraries, virtual classrooms and assessment tools. In the past two years, the rate of edtech adoption has accelerated due to the global pandemic, with organizations procuring and implementing digital tools to support remote work and learning.

Many learning and development (L&D) departments have shifted to online delivery of learning and performance support overnight. North America alone was responsible for $165.3 billion in corporate training expenditures in 2020. With that in mind, it is crucial to choose the right edtech products that align both with the current and future state of your organization. Below are some ideas on how to future-proof your edtech investment.

Consider Your Learning Strategy and Vision

As workplace learning continues to evolve, we have broadened our definition to include social, informal, performance support, coaching and mentoring, immersive experience and many other forms of L&D. How does your learning strategy and vision incorporate these different forms of learning and what does the learning journey for your staff look like from onboarding to succession planning?

When evaluating an edtech product, think about what aspect of the learning journey it supports (e.g., a mentoring platform that supports informal learning by promoting knowledge sharing and collaboration among peers), and whether the product can help your organization achieve its learning goals directly and to what extent.

Edtech Product Roadmap Alignment

A product roadmap is a high-level summary that maps out the vision and direction of the product offering in the future. Product roadmaps reveal how vendors prioritize the development of functions and features, whether they listen to customer suggestions and how transparent they are in their communications with stakeholders. It is crucial to assess whether the product roadmap aligns with your learning strategy and future needs as a business. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to partner with your vendor in providing feedback, facilitating discussions on change management (especially when there is a major version release of the product) and participating in beta testing on new products and functions.

Scalability and Maintainability

It is important to understand the scalability and maintainability of the edtech product. Explore questions such as:

    • What is the underlying technology?
    • Is it modern and reliable?
    • Does the product follow accepted industry standards (e.g., SCORM, xAPI, accessibility standards, mobile development standards, etc.)
    • Can it be integrated with other platforms?

Technologies designed with industry standards tend to have a larger base of developers and a community of users. You also want to know that the product is actively maintained; find out how often major and minor versions are released, what is included in each of these version updates and the cost if any. Find out how users and user data are managed. Is there a limit to how many users can access the system simultaneously, and if so, how does it affect the system’s performance? How does the system handle the deletion, archiving and migration of user data? Do they have a data privacy policy and are they keeping up with legal requirements? These questions will help you determine whether the product can grow with your organization and how well it will handle changes.

Future-proofing your edtech investment requires a careful process of curating the most suitable solutions that align with your organization’s current and future needs. It is worth spending time up front to consider all these factors before you make a purchase.