Working to evaluate EdTech platforms through the new lens of AI? Download support from Shoelace!

Written by Lauren Lutz-Coleman

Hi all! Lauren here. As I write this, I’m settling back into a traditional workweek after the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). At the conference, one educational buzzword quickly and clearly emerged as the top focus on everyone’s minds: Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

I hosted a session at the conference entitled “Evaluating EdTech Platforms Through the New Lens of AI.” I am excited to share the same materials that conference attendees received with all Shoelace users. Later in this blog, you’ll find our one-page guidance on lenses to consider when piloting or purchasing AI-integrated tools. 

Eager for the resource? You can download it by clicking here. Before we dive into it fully, though, stay with me as I set the stage. 

Where are schools at when it comes to AI?

Overwhelming, teachers at FETC were brimming with enthusiasm about the possibilities that AI-integrated platforms could bring to their classrooms and their work. Educators are keen to explore, raving about the potential impacts that resources could have for their own use (think: task management), for their students (think: student engagement), and more. 

Administrators, however, seem to be proceeding a bit more cautiously– and this is understandable. The emergence of AI has been rapid, and guidance from state, provincial and federal government agencies is not yet available to steer school district leaders. According to US President Biden’s Executive Order on AI, the US Secretary of Education has until October 2024 to develop resources, policies, and guidance related to AI. As such, school districts may not find themselves provided guidance they can use for resource selection and purchasing decisions until they’re budgeting for the 2025-2026 academic year. 

Many administrators are positing how to best manage the interim time frame. Do they spin up homegrown policies to carry their districts over, or do they hold off on wide-scale AI integration until official mandates are released? 

What goes into charting a course for AI in schools?

I know exactly how it feels to determine when, how, and if to navigate new technology. I’m a former classroom teacher, and also served my school district as a Technology Ambassador. In this role, I supported the district’s instructional technology aims by conducting early pilots of potential resources, providing personal development to the staff on our purchased platforms, and– what proved to be the most daunting– providing guidance on the annual budget. 

When it came to scoping the budget, I started off eagerly, thrilled to be in control of the decisions. Very soon after, I began to anxiously question how I’d defend the recommendations I put forward. How do I best substantiate whether the platform will deliver the value I anticipate it will? Can I truly justify the tool at this price? 

By my final year, I had established a mature process that rationalized district technology spend with ample, aligned documentation. That documentation manifested in the form of a comprehensive list of questions I would ask throughout the review process. The question list guided my review of EdTech vendors’ websites, as well as my conversations with their customer success teams. I wrote about this process recently on LinkedIn, and you can see that post here.

More recently, as AI-integrated platforms entered the space, I realized that the “comprehensive list of questions” I used over the last few years was no longer sufficient. I needed to expand that list to include considerations specific to AI. Those expanded questions are what I present in the resource below. 

Evaluating AI-Integrated Ed-Tech

As the Director of Education at Shoelace, the questions and considerations when it comes to the integration of AI into learning technologies is an important part of my role. AI-integrated education technology spans a range of educational tools and platforms that incorporate AI to enhance learning experiences. You’ve likely seen AI integration before in many of the platforms you use. This integration manifests in features such as automated quiz generation, intelligent grading systems, and creative tools that generate visual content or presentations in response to user prompts. Essentially, these technologies leverage AI to streamline educational processes, personalize learning, and expand the capabilities of traditional educational tools.

At the FETC, I shared this Shoelace resource to help decision makers who face new and daunting questions as they evaluate tech for their teachers. It’s a one-page training document that will prepare school district staff who are charged with recommending and purchasing technology to affirm their selections. It serves two purposes: it outlines background information and presents example questions.

In regards to the background information, the resource overviews vocabulary, definitions, and examples. This information will build school staff members’ knowledge of industry terminology that they will encounter when investigating AI-integrated platforms. 

Alongside the information are guiding questions. These are questions that district staff can pose to EdTech vendors to gain assurance that the platforms or resources they intend to use are going to meet their expectations. 

The questions are grouped into three categories important for districts to consider when bringing AI into their learning spaces: privacy and safety, accuracy and reliability, and broadened thinking. 

Both Shoelace Learning’s Education Team and Engineering Team contributed to the development of this resource. This resource was developed by both departments to ensure it includes accurate information about the way in which AI-integrated platforms function, as well as aligns that information with school-specific use cases and needs. 

How to Use Our Resource

Are you at a conference and see a vendor’s booth that catches your eye? Use the provided questions to get a better sense of their product. 

Are teachers requesting a new platform? Set up a call with the vendor to inquire! 

In essence, this resource is here to help you build confidence in the vendors with whom you partner, as well as serve as a form of justification for the recommendations you elevate to your district leadership and Boards of Education. 

Best of luck in navigating your EdTech resource selections! I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, whether you are an educator, an admin, or an avid AI enthusiast. Drop me an email at if you’d like to chat further about the resource or your experiences.


Biden, J. (2023, October 30). Executive order on the safe, secure, and trustworthy development and use of artificial intelligence. White House.

About Lauren Coleman

Lauren Lutz-Coleman is the Director of Education at Shoelace. A former teacher, she spent more than ten years in US classrooms. She now oversees content development strategy, bringing together her interests in both literacy development and educational technology. For an avid reader like her, there’s no better work than helping others learn to unpack good stories. 

About Rakesh Kamath

Rakesh Kamath is the Director of Product Engineering at Shoelace. A career SaaS venture engineer, he has spent the last decade at the intersection of AI, EdTech and SaaS products. Before Shoelace, he was the co-founder and CTO of JoeZoo– one of the first generation of AI-driven written assessment products focused on K12 education. 


comments for this post are closed