Usage Surges for 18 Ed-Tech Products During COVID-19 Quarantine

Associate Editor

Ed-tech usage dropped significantly after schools closed during the coronavirus outbreak, but 18 products were used more, according to a study by LearnPlatform, which tracks the average daily use of more than 8,000 ed-tech products.

With nearly 44 million K-12 students in the U.S. affected by school closures by mid-March, LearnPlatform continued to follow remote ed-tech usage by educators and students as they engaged with products from home.

The data about which companies gained usage, and what happened as schools shuttered, comes from week-over-week comparisons of up to 2 million users accessing ed-tech via Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers. That represents about 80 to 85 percent of web traffic, said Karl Rectanus, the co-founder and CEO of LearnPlatform.

The study relies on the LearnPlatform Usage Index, which is designed to provide an understanding of how much a given ed-tech product is used, both in comparison to itself over time and to the use across all ed-tech tools in the market.

Usage of  Zoom, a video and web conferencing tool, grew most dramatically, with an 887 percent increase in only one week during mid-March. By April, however, districts were discovering vulnerabilities in Zoom’s security and privacy, and the company was scrambling to address those for K-12. Eventually, New York City schools banned Zoom over privacy concerns.

Of the 18 ed-tech “gainers” on the list, most were in the operational category (56 percent) and another 39 percent were curricular. By purpose, supplementary learning tools represented the largest percentage of the gainers—22 percent—with a number of communications, games, and creativity tools in the mix.

Top 10 Products Used More After Schools Closed

Ranking Product What It Does
#1 Zoom Video conferencing, web conferencing
#2 Flipgrid Empowers social learning in classrooms around the world, inviting educators to “use video the way your students do”
 #3 Mystery Science K-5 science curriculum
 #4 Screencastify Screencasts via Chrome to record, edit and share videos
 #5 Math Games Free math games and skill practice online
 #6 BrainPOP Jr.  A K-3 learning tool that encourages young learners to ask questions and form their own ideas in the areas of STEM,  social studies, reading/writing, health and the arts
#7 Remind Educators, students, and parents use Remind to connect with the people and resources that help them teach and learn.
#8 Blindside Networks Blindside Networks started the BigBlueButton project 12 years ago to provide remote students with a high-quality online learning experience. LMSes have embedded BigBlueButton, a virtual classroom system, into their products and use Blindside Networks to provide hosting worldwide for virtual classes.
#9  Seesaw Seesaw is a platform for student engagement. Teachers can empower students to create, reflect, share, and collaborate. Students “show what they know” using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, and links. Student work is collected in one place and shared with families.
#10  GoNoodle Provides movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts

Companies looking at the LearnPlatform research on usage during this distance-learning period will see that “school districts are going to be most interested in tools that are safe, equitable, and cost-effective,” said Rectanus.

During March, about 60 percent of students were online nationally and they used 40 percent more ed-tech tools than when they were in school. “The harder part for districts, and the steps they’re going to take, will not be to simply help that 60 percent access more tools,” Rectaunus said. “It will be to serve the 40 percent that didn’t have access on their own.”

Low-bandwidth solutions, remote solutions, and off-line solutions may continue to be a benefit, he said.

Ed-tech providers should be concerned that “their products respect student data privacy, that they’re accessible … and ultimately that their tools can help districts support the underserved,” said Rectanus.

More information about this research can be accessed here.

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