More than 100 edtech companies have signed up to a new scheme that allows schools to test their products before spending money on them.
The LendED platform, set to be launched at the Bett Show tomorrow, has been created by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa), with the support of the Department for Education.
The move follows calls last summer for edtech companies to let schools "try before they buy" so that they do not waste scarce resources on inappropriate products.
Patrick Hayes, director of Besa, told Tes: “LendEd is a way in which teachers can request a trial of products before they buy in order to make sure it’s right for them.
“The quid pro quo on this is that they leave a review. The idea is that eventually over time it becomes an evidence-based hub of what works and what doesn’t work to allow teachers to pool ideas and feedback on products.”
The LendED website says that every entry on the site includes a “detailed case study showcasing how other teachers have used the product in their schools, and the outcomes they have experienced”.
Finding the right edtech products
Mr Hayes said teachers will be able to search “a detailed taxonomy of products” in five different categories.
They can then click a button to send an email to the supplier, who will then get in touch with the school to offer a free test of their product.
Mr Hayes said the non-profit initiative was needed because previous examples of money being wasted on inappropriate edtech “loom large in the memory”.
He said there is “a history of money being spend on initiatives by the DfE, and some of them are edtech, where a lot of investment is made without schools being entirely sure that it was right for them”.
Mr Hayes said the education secretary “wants to make sure that investment in ICT is evidence-based and is right for schools, and isn’t a top-down initiative that leads to a lot of devices gathering dust”.
Mr Hayes also said that many edtech products are created by teachers who are “not really in it for the money”, and “there is a social ethos driving a lot of product development within the edtech sector”.
He added: “They genuinely want schools to make sure that it’s right for them before they fork out any of their very scarce budget for it.”