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Use of Digital Classroom Tools Holds Steady Post-Pandemic

According to LearnPlatform’s latest EdTech Top 40 report, Google products remain popular, and use of digital tools in K-12 classrooms did not abate even after instruction mostly shifted back to an in-person environment.

Illustration of STEM, technology education
An annual report from LearnPlatform shows that students and teachers are using digital tools as much now during in-school instruction as they were during hybrid and remote learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a wave of K-12 schools and school districts utilizing various digital tools driving growth in the ed-tech market — a trend that likely will continue past the pandemic, according to experts. A new report by a North Carolina-based ed-tech company appears to prove those experts right, at least for the first half of the academic year. LearnPlatform, a company that helps educators choose and assess digital learning products, revealed in its report that there was no drop-off in the use of digital tools, platforms and services by students or teachers in U.S. schools from last year to this one.

LearnPlatform’s EdTech Top 40 Mid-Year Report collected data on more than 8,000 ed-tech tools used by millions of K-12 students and teachers between August and December last year, then ranked which tools they used the most. According to the report, Google products — Google Docs, Google Slides, YouTube, Google Drive and Google Forms — were the top five used, and the same five that topped the rankings last year, according to a news release. Google products made up eight out of the top 10 tools in the rankings, with Docs the leader of the group for the fifth straight year, dating back to LearnPlatform’s first year collecting the data in 2017, the release said. Other tools ranked in the top 10 include Kahoot! and Kahoot!-owned Clever, ranked sixth and seventh, respectively.

The report also tapped into the data of average individual use of tools by both teachers and students, which showed virtually no difference compared to the 2020-2021 data, the release said. According to the stats, K-12 students, on average, used 74 different tools, while teachers on average were engaged with 86 in the six-month time frame. From a district-wide perspective, the average school district used 1,403 tools per month, which is unchanged from the previous year’s data, the release said. The data looked at more than 2 million students and over 225,000 teachers, and notes that 97 percent of the schools were providing mainly in-person instruction.

“It’s clear that tech-enabled learning is here to stay, not just a function of school closures and remote learning,” LearnPlatform Co-Founder and CEO Karl Rectanus said in a public statement.

The top 40 was broken up into four categories — learner focused, educator focused, organization, and general and pervasive — with the learner-focused category being the largest. Made up of subcategories including websites, reference collections, study tools, supplemental platforms, authoring tools and learning materials/supplies, learner-focused products accounted for 40 percent of the top 40. Educator-focused tools were the second largest category, with those focused on classroom engagement and instruction being the largest subcategory, comprising 22.5 percent of the top 40.

Tools that dropped down LearnPlatform’s rankings included video-conferencing tools Zoom and Google Meet, as schools went back to more in-school instruction, the release said. There were several newcomers to the top 40, including classroom engagement tool Gimkit, learning management system Schoology, i-Ready, Grammarly and McGraw Hill Education.

“As districts face budget constraints and uncertainty around continued funding, it’s essential they have the evidence they need about the effectiveness and safety of ed-tech at the time of decision-making to be responsible stewards of available funding,” Rectanus said.