The Learning Accelerator Blog/Engaging 3 Key Groups for Equity in Edtech

edtech diversity, equity, and inclusion

Engaging 3 Key Groups for Equity in Edtech

by Jin-Soo Huh on November 10 2023

When implemented thoughtfully and equitably, edtech has the power to accelerate learning and address persistent disparities. While academic edtech tools can make learning more inclusive and responsive to students’ interests and needs, edtech processes must incorporate input from stakeholders impacted by these tools. By examining the impact a school system’s edtech has on different participants, leaders can analyze and strengthen their processes to benefit all involved, particularly for the most vulnerable populations and those who have been historically underserved, by purposefully engaging them while selecting, implementing, and evaluating edtech.

Coming off unprecedented levels of edtech procurement to meet the challenges of the pandemic, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Educational Technology (MA DESE OET) recognized an opportunity to support school systems in examining and centering equity in their edtech processes. MA DESE OET partnered with TLA to develop an EdTech Systems Guide: Equity-Driven Selection, Implementation, and Evaluation and lead a 2022-23 cohort of Massachusetts school systems to strengthen their edtech systems by centering equity, receiving individualized coaching, and networking with peers. The participating systems showed us how they engage three key groups to understand edtech’s impact: students, teachers, and families and caregivers.

Listen to Students, Teachers, Families and Caregivers

Without stakeholder engagement, school systems are left unsure of how edtech affects those most proximate to it: students, teachers, and families or caregivers. To collect input from these groups, cohort members implemented structures ranging from stakeholder surveys and focus groups to community liaisons.


Students are the users of many edtech tools, but their input is often not sought out by decision makers despite their valuable insights on edtech tools, including whether they help them learn. Collecting student input can take many forms:

  • Cambridge Public Schools developed student surveys for fifth graders about their usage of the tools, asking if they found them easy to use and liked using them in class. They also conducted focus groups, providing sentence starters to facilitate fifth graders articulating their thoughts.
  • Mendon-Upton Regional School District included a student on the school system’s technology committee. The student actively gave input on edtech processes and even developed a public-facing edtech inventory for the school system.

Families and Caregivers

Schools use edtech tools to engage families in their students’ lives, strengthen the home-school connection, and provide avenues for communication and access to teachers. School systems should engage families to make sure they are aware of these tools, can access them, and have the technical skills necessary to navigate them. For instance, several cohort teams explored strategies to learn more from families and caregivers:

  • Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School evaluated its student information system (SIS)’s effectiveness in getting messages to families about school events, announcements, and involvement opportunities, ultimately developing a caregiver survey to learn how families received this information. Hilltown also conducted empathy interviews, but recognizing that highly engaged parents would most likely complete the survey, they focused their outreach on specific groups of families that gave less regular feedback, including caregivers and families of color as well as those positioned further from economic opportunity.
  • Gill-Montague Regional School District focused on increasing English language learners’ families’ usage of their SIS to strengthen the home-school connection, partnering with a Spanish Interpreter and a Community Liaison. The liaison scheduled individual conversations with families of middle and high school students to help them install the SIS family portal onto their phones, gave them an overview of the features (e.g., checking grades, seeing what the homework is), and showed them how to translate the information into Spanish. This led to an increase in teachers requesting translation support to send announcements to families, and there was an increase in families engaging with teachers to ask about assignments and student progress.


Teachers use edtech tools in their instruction and support students in using edtech tools. By intentionally capturing teacher input, school systems get insights into how tools are being used in the classroom, what kind of support they need, and their preferences for tools. Some examples of this include:

  • Attleboro Public Schools piloted Google Sites as the tool for students’ digital portfolios with a small group of teachers and students. They solicited pilot teachers’ feedback throughout the process, which led them to select what they found to be a more teacher-friendly and easier-to-manage long-term tool.
  • Chicopee Public Schools surveyed teachers to gauge their comfort and usage levels of tools while also asking teachers what factors would make them more likely to attend a training session or workshop (e.g., if the session was after school, if the presenter was a staff member from their school). This information helped inform the focus of professional development sessions and their scheduling to strengthen implementation.

Engage Stakeholders and Center Equity to Strengthen Edtech Processes

As school systems strengthen and develop edtech processes, they should engage stakeholders and provide them authentic opportunities to give input on how they use tools, what support they need, if the tools are effective, and what features tools should have. In particular, school systems should aim to elevate the voices of populations who are historically underserved and the most vulnerable. Engaging stakeholders in this way is one strategy to ensure that equity is centered in edtech processes.

MA DESE OET and TLA have launched a second cohort focused on strengthening edtech processes for the 2023-24 school year. Keep an eye on TLA’s blog for insights from this year’s cohort.

About the Author

Jin-Soo Huh is a Partner at The Learning Accelerator. He brings over a decade of experience implementing and scaling innovative education models that incorporate blended and personalized learning.