The State of EdTech 2021: Education Software Usage Analyzed

Today we will share our list of the most popular software tools used by education institutions. Why is this important? If you are managing technology in education you need to make the best choice from among many available tools. Discovering the most popular tools used by other education professionals can help you make an informed choice.

After reading the report you’ll know which tools are relied upon by primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities in the United States. This is based on a unique dataset from StatusGator. The dataset includes the tools and services that are monitored by educational organizations:

  • primary schools
  • secondary schools
  • colleges and universities, both public and private 
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Disclaimer: The data is depersonalized as we selected all StatusGator users with “k12”, “edu” or “school” in their domain. The main goal of this report is to understand what are the most popular and important tools for the educational industry. Keep in mind that the free plan from StatusGator covers up to 3 tools and the paid one covers up to 500 tools, so budget limitations are not a concern for organizations that monitor only a few services. Hopefully, this research will help you to add more tools to the current stack and monitor it more efficiently.

General Insights 

Below is the general list of tools used by various educational organizations, monitored using StatusGator. This list is later split by categories, users, and services.

There are 127 unique services used by educational organizations. These tools are listed under various categories, and sometimes one tool might fall under several categories because it fills more than one role.

Tools by categories

Now, let’s split these tools by categories. 

Number of educational tools by number of educational organizations

Key insights:

  1. Educational services account for only 39 of the 127 services monitored. Of course, there are also a lot of other tools in various categories that are important and widely used by schools and colleges.
  2. There are a surprisingly low number of providers in the communication and chat category. Most likely this is due to the market being almost monopolized by Zoom, Slack and a few other ubiquitously used tools.

As we can see, despite DevOps, cybersecurity, productivity tools, and Big Data analytics becoming increasingly popular in the IT industry, they are almost never used by educators. While the most obvious reasons are a lack of funds, knowledge, or need for such tools, this poses a potential concern — at least in terms of the security of personal details and the speed of applying patches and fixes when the need arises.

Since most institutions monitor mostly education-specific software, they either don’t use or don’t monitor their DevOps, cloud infrastructure, communication and other tools. With educational organizations being so tightly regulated and required to protect their learners’ personal details, the lack of attention to security tools is concerning.

Users by categories

This shows how many unique users are monitoring various categories of tools.

Educational services by number of educational organizations

Key insights:

  1. There are 191 unique users, but only 150 of them monitor tools from the Education Category. So ~25% of educational organizations do not use (or monitor) any of the tools from the Education category. Perhaps, they use custom solutions or combine tools from other categories to fill the gap.
  2. 125 users monitor communication and chat applications. So 35% do not find communication tools important enough to monitor.
  3. Cloud infrastructure is important for ~50% of users. The rest will likely use on-prem infrastructure, perhaps this applies to colleges and universities. 

Naturally, many educational organizations use video editing, LMS, and course design tools to create proprietary learning content. But why do so few monitor it? Are the rest using on-prem solutions instead of cloud-based ones, or don’t they think it important enough to monitor?

Services by users

This shows how users are divided by the number of services they monitor.

Number of educational organizations by number of tools they monitor

Key insights:

  1. Nearly 55% of users monitor only one service. This certainly does not mean they don’t want to monitor more tools (StatusGator’s free plan covers up to 3), as a single system is clearly not enough to cover an educational organization.
  2. 13% of users monitor 5+ services and 6% monitor 10+ services.
  3. The majority of users monitor a small number of services. This means only a small number of services are really important for them.

So you can see, even a free StatusGator plan meets the needs of most educational organizations, and it can be easily upgraded should the need arise to monitor more tools.

Top Monitored Services

Let’s now analyze the most popular tools monitored by educational organizations. They can be split into three main categories: educational software, communication tools and performance management systems.

Education

Below are the tools from the education category, listed in order of popularity:

  • Canvas by Instructure — one of the most popular LMS or Learning Management Systems
  • Clever — an API provider to connect Student Information Systems to third-party software
  • PowerSchool — a K-12 education technology provider
  • Seesaw — a student engagement and creativity management platform
  • Schoology — a social networking and virtual learning environment management platform for K-12 schools and higher institutions
  • Flipgrid — a free-to-use service for Microsoft or Google users, where teachers can create and share educational content with their learners
  • Blackboard — another popular LMS and virtual learning environment software
  • Pear Deck — an interactive tool for creating presentations using Google Drive services 
  • Nearpod — a tool for creating interactive presentations for classes or virtual classrooms
  • Screencastify — a Chrome browser extension for recording the learner’s screen, face and voice – used for performing online assessments and exams.

Communication 

Below are the tools from the communication category, listed in order of popularity:

  • Zoom — unsurprisingly, the leader of remote communication
  • Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) — Google Meet and other tools
  • Microsoft Office — Microsoft services for communication and collaboration
  • Slack — the most popular business messenger around
  • Discord — a VoIP and community management service

Productivity

Below are the tools from the performance category, listed in order of popularity:

  • Microsoft 365 — a productivity suite used by many educational organizations
  • Box — a collaboration and productivity service providing secure access to content
  • Webex — a web-based learning management tool to host, attend and track classes
  • Smartsheet — a tool for synchronizing the curriculum and enrollment of students moving from one school to another or across district boundaries 
  • Atlassian Support — a support service for Atlassian University online courses
  • Planview — a content portfolio and work management solution
  • Miro — a free-to-use virtual whiteboard for teacher-learner collaboration
  • Prezi — a tool for creating interactive presentations with advanced effects
  • Dropbox — a collaborative workspace for learners, educators and faculty teams

Users who do monitoring correctly

What kind of monitoring is ideal for schools and universities? Which StatusGator users have optimal monitoring configurations? Below we explain why we consider some companies to be monitoring correctly and what best practices you should follow to be among them.

  • Only 6% of users that monitor 10+ services can be considered experts. This means they adopt new technologies and have DevOps in place, which makes them more secure, more stable, and better prepared for future challenges.  
  • The organizations that monitor fewer than 5-7 services probably do not realize how many services they depend on OR realize they do not have monitoring set up properly. This means their cloud storage can be down for days and they won’t ever find out. 

The data behind the report

How can we be so sure our research results are valid and credible?  Below are the answers to some questions you might have.

  • The data comprises anonymized statistics from StatusGator. There are 191 users from the education industry — public and private elementary, middle and higher schools, colleges and universities. They monitor 127 important services in total.
  • Why do we use the word “important”? Because these are the tools they monitor, thus meaning they are dependent on them and every minute of downtime counts. 
  • How can we be sure we don’t miss any services? At this moment we monitor more than 1,000 services. We constantly add new services to the list. We ask our customers what they want us to add — and we add them, usually within hours or days. StatusGator monitors many small, niche regional services as well such as testing providers.
  • We therefore have the most complete list of services monitored. As long as they have a status page, we can monitor. (Those that does not provider transparency with a status page are relics of a bygone era. How can your customers know when you’re down? These services found out the hard way in Q2 2020.
  • How did we split the tools by categories? Why do some categories have multiple names? We split tools based on their main use case. If we know there are several main use cases like Communication and Productivity, we add multiple words

StatusGator is an independent status monitoring platform that provides a single dashboard to monitor the status of all the services your company uses. Even the free StatusGator plan provides a convenient and reliable end-to-end monitoring and alerting service, greatly decreasing helpdesk workload and making everything more transparent.

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Conclusions

There are some unexpected tools on this list. For example, while seeing various CRM and security software is understandable, having e-Commerce or telephony solutions like Brightpearl or Bandwidth there was somewhat surprising.

One thing we found interesting in the data is that in some ways, Education customers aren’t that different from commercial customers: A lot of them rely on the big cloud providers: Amazon/Azure/Google/etc. Apple is also very common, reflecting Apple’s large market share in the education space.

As you can see, different educational organizations use different software tools to interact with their learners. Thus, having a single, easily configurable dashboard to monitor the performance of your IT infrastructure, regardless of its complexity can be a lifesaver. 

Check it out for yourself. Subscribe to a free plan from StatusGator and reduce student, teacher, and parent support burden!