Recently we saw a great whitepaper from Curriculum Associates citing 14 points that administrators should evaluate in making an EdTech purchase for their school or district. The use of technology in schools across the country has increased tremendously over the past 5 years. Since there are so many options from assessment to grading and behavioral management tools it can be difficult to determine which tools will actually make a valuable impact on your school. With expanded emphasis on alignment Common Core Standards in many states schools need to make choices on technology applications that will show their value over the long term.
Here are 14 steps to making valuable EdTech purchases:
1) Take Inventory
-Know what tools you currently use, and how effective they are for you and your staff.
-Think about how often the tools are being used.
-Think about who is using these tools, why they are being used, and if they are being used correctly.
-Are the tools used in your school or district properly supported?
2) Determine your educational priorities
-What are you looking for a product to do?
-Include all teachers and other staff members in the process.
-Figure out what processes are of the most need first.
3) Don’t customize (too much)
-Most schools need products which similar functionality (i.e. Common Core transition, saving staff time, streamlining communication).
-Be very specific about your needs and wants.
4) Use collaborative buying if the option is available
-Research your connections within your district, or school associations to learn how your co-op process works.
-Consider putting out an RFP.
5) Make apples-to-apples comparisons
-What are the results from this product in other schools or districts?
-What is the vendor’s renewal rate as a % of sales?
6) Understand data integration capabilities
-Only work with vendors that integrate with other service providers you currently have to lessen the workload for your staff.
-Data integration can help your teachers greatly in getting real-time feedback and insights. Make sure that teachers are involved in the process at this level.
7) Consider piloting the program
-Look to evaluate specific goals from the pilot.
-Make sure you have at least 1 staff member invested in the process.
-Choose a vendor who may do fewer pilots, but has great feedback or recommendations on customer service from past users.
8) Watch company support services closely
-How are support issues resolved? Does the company use a ticket system? How can you escalate key user issues?
-Who will be the main point of contact for your account? How responsive are they?
-Are you able to contact the CEO if you need immediate help?
9) Understand total cost of ownership
-Are their additional (hidden) fees for the use of this product or service?
-Make sure you fully understand the pricing model
10) Pricing and implementation guarantees
-Set a policy for vendors that your school or district required either a money-back guarantee or price assurance.
-Ask vendors to certify the authenticity of price quotes that are given in the evaluation process.
11) Look for other ways to save
-Ask the vendor if they would come to the school or district to run PD over a few days.
-Assess the difference in price between per pupil vs. flat fee licenses.
12) Ask for references or recommendations
-Reach out to other similar size schools or districts that use the product.
-When speaking with reference spend time discussing customer service, account management and what they may know about the product roadmap.
13) Know what implementation objectives are
-Know how this product can help you in the short term, and plan for deeper integrations in the future.
-Make sure the program can work for everyone who needs it to.
14) It’s a journey, not a race
-Keep in mind that know product you purchase will be perfect day one.
-Your needs will continue to evolve so make sure that the product is helping to push your mission and vision forward.
We would like to know what other points in the process of buying new technologies may have been missed. We value the feedback of our readers and want to continue to find great content to share, Thanks for reading.