7th-annual EdTech Top 40

It’s kind of a big deal in edtech and it’s just now out: The 7th annual EdTech Top 40 list. Of note, this year the ETT40 highlights tools that are ESSA-aligned and indicates that AI’s explosion on the scene has led to districts, teachers and students accessing more tools – hence the need for interoperability and evidence.

‘…this year the ETT40 highlights tools that are ESSA-aligned and indicates that AI’s explosion on the scene has led to districts, teachers and students accessing more tools…’

Increases in Unique Digital Tools

The new LearnPlatform by Instructure report finds increases in more unique digital tools access by K-12 institutions, students, and teachers. The report highlights the reliance on edtech in our schools and the importance of maintaining an interoperable technological ecosystem.

LearnPlatform by Instructure published the report which focuses on the usage of digital solutions, tools and resources in K-12 districts, schools and classrooms within the United States during the 2023-24 school year. In addition to highlighting the top 40 education technology products, which represent more than 3.9 million student and teacher interactions, the report provides insights on trends, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)-aligned evidence and categorical rankings relevant to K-12 decision-makers as well as edtech product leaders.

According to the report, K-12 institutions are accessing eight percent more tools aggregated annually from the prior academic year–continuing a similar trend seen in recent years’ reports. This year also saw an increase in unique edtech tools accessed individually by both students and teachers.

Building An Effective Learning Ecosystem

“The evidence is clear: tech-enabled learning is here to stay,” says Melissa Loble, Chief Academic Officer at Instructure. “As districts continue to explore different tools to enhance learning, the obstacles they now face aren’t just about picking the best tool, but picking safe, effective and interoperable tools that work together to build a highly effective learning ecosystem. Districts need trusted guidance and transparent information to empower them to make efficient and effective decisions that will improve teaching and learning.”

School districts accessed an average of 2,739 distinct edtech tools annually, with an average of 1,436 tools accessed each month during the school year. This indicates that districts are continuing to explore different technological tools over the course of the school year in order to improve or assist the learning experience. 

No Surprise, AI Explosion — Scrutiny Expected

“The increase in tools used isn’t a surprise,” says Shiren Vijiasingam, Chief Product Officer at Instructure. “On the one hand, we know districts are actively looking for opportunities to consolidate their edtech, but with the explosion of new AI-enabled tools, there has been a lot of experimentation. We expect scrutiny on how these tools are helping the teaching and learning process.” 

As with previous years, the top 40 tools continue to remain consistent with only a handful of new products joining the list. The five new entrants to the EdTech Top 40 this academic year include PBS, Panorama Education, Scratch, Adobe, and Grammarly; the latter three indicating the quickly increasing prevalence of AI in schools and drawing attention to the need for best practices to guide its use.

Evidence-based Decisions

Educators are using technology to boost student engagement, personalize learning and save time, but how do they know what’s making a difference? The report found that 32% of the tools on the 2024 Edtech Top 40 have published research that meets one of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) four tiers of evidence. The ESSA framework offers an accessible model for educators to identify research-backed edtech, ranging from innovative new solutions to established tools with empirical validation. School districts are increasingly seeking ESSA-aligned research as part of their vetting processes to make evidence-based decisions.

Deeper Look, Comprehensive Analysis

Consistent with previous years, this report analyzed products performing specific functions to provide a deeper look at the top education technology tools within key categories. This year’s categories include Learning Management Systems (LMS), Supplemental Platforms, Courseware Platforms, Study Tools, Classroom Response & Assessment Tools, and Sites and Resources. Recognizing the rise of LMS solutions as the hub of teaching and learning, the report also offered a snapshot of the fifteen solutions most commonly accessed within Canvas, the second-most used LMS, and found just under 50% overlap with the Top 40 list.

Data for both the rankings and usage metrics was gathered via LearnPlatform’s Inventory Dashboard from September 1, 2023, through May 31, 2024. This Inventory Dashboard seamlessly integrates with browsers and mobile device management systems, providing transparent insight into the edtech tools utilized by students and educators in any U.S. educational institution. The report offers a comprehensive analysis of over 57 billion engagements spanning more than 9,000 education technology products throughout the year.

Analysis, tools and reports are compliant with all federal and state student data privacy laws, including FERPA, COPPA, CIPA and PPRA. The Edtech Top 40 is based solely on quantitative analysis of engagement, and does not reflect user sentiment, effectiveness, or utility. (For additional detailed insights, evidence, and more information on any education technology, educators and leaders should access LearnPlatform by Instructure)

“Year after year, the EdTech Top 40 has provided comprehensive data of K-12 education technology engagement across our nation’s districts,” Loble concludes. “Data-driven decision-making is more important than ever when assessing the role of technology in our schools. This is why the EdTech Top 40 remains more relevant than ever.”

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