8 Steps to Ensure a Successful Technology Pilot
When it comes to implementing new educational technology (edtech), there are a variety of reasons schools start with a pilot. A district may want to see evidence of student and teacher engagement before committing to a license, or a pilot might be the best option to pursue innovation amid budget restrictions, allowing teachers to start using a technology before funding becomes available for full adoption.
Whatever the driver, choosing to pilot new technology is no guarantee of its success. And while it’s important to lean into your edtech provider for their product expertise and experience, the partnership should be structured to support your goals and vision. If you’re considering an edtech pilot launch, the eight steps below are designed to help set you on the path to success—and ensure a smooth transition to full adoption when the time comes.
1. Partner with your provider to build measurable success criteria and goals.
Start with clearly identified goals and measurable success criteria, and develop them hand-in-hand with your edtech provider. Whether using an existing planning document or creating one yourself, ask for examples of commonly used success criteria that can help you build out your priorities. Remember, goals should be unique to you and your school!
2. Understand your school’s procurement process and the implementation timeline for the new technology.
Pilots require time and resources, and shouldn't be taken lightly. It's important for teachers to be maximizing their instructional time. Avoid surprises and ensure your teachers time is well spent during the pilot process.
3. Align the scope and length of the pilot to your needs and goals.
Make sure the pilot scope and duration meet your needs. Keeping your use case front of mind, ask your edtech provider for examples of successful pilots in your state or region—based on their experience there are likely best practices and options they can recommend. At the end of the day, however, you should feel confident that the pilot is a customized solution built for your school.
4. Appoint teacher advocates and make sure they have an administrator sponsor.
Rather than attempting to launch a pilot school-wide, identify a small cohort of teachers across grades and subject areas to be your “captains.” These teacher advocates should have an executive sponsor (ideally an assistant superintendent or director of curriculum), and establish expectations with your provider that they will collect feedback, implement success criteria, and monitor engagement within this dedicated group.
5. Conduct a joint review of the proposal and explore what full-year adoption would entail.
While it may seem easier to delay discussing full adoption, set aside time to have that conversation with your edtech provider during a joint review of the pilot proposal. If your school isn’t comfortable with expansion costs, launching a pilot might not be the right decision.
6. Assess what professional development is required to support a successful implementation.
Make sure you fully explore the resources your provider has to support implementation and make the most of your pilot. Work to build a customized professional development plan that aligns with the success criteria of the pilot.
7. Schedule regular check-ins with your provider, teacher advocates, and executive sponsors.
Establish regular check-in times and dates, then stick to them! Check-ins help ensure that that you and your edtech provider continue to align on the success criteria you built, and they provide built-in time for answering questions and reviewing milestones.
8. Work with your provider on an extended timeline if you’re ready to develop a long-term partnership.
When you feel ready to expand the partnership, work with your edtech provider to develop an extended timeline for full adoption. If the steps above have gone smoothly, you’ll be well-prepared to work together long-term!
The key to a successful pilot and relationship with your provider? Work hand-in-hand to leverage their experience, but always keep your goals and vision at the center of the partnership. The time and energy you invest during a pilot may feel like a lot, but the stronger your partnership, the smoother the road to full adoption will be.