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This article was first published by eSchool News in April 2021, and it is republished here with permission.
Based on the sheer amount of marketing emails and sales calls received on a weekly—or even daily—basis, district leaders can surely attest to the seemingly countless number of technologies on the market today. But just how big is the edtech industry? To put it in perspective, there were nearly 1,400 edtech companies in the United States alone last year, according to a report from RS Components. That’s a lot.
With so many technologies and providers out there, how can district leaders choose the right edtech partner or partners? Below are four questions to consider during the procurement process.
Does the company understand my goals?
It is important that any edtech partner or prospective partner understand what the district is trying to accomplish, as well as share the district’s vision in reaching those goals. This involves honest and straightforward conversations from the start about where the district is at, where it is looking to go, and how the edtech partner can help.
In addition, district leaders should look for partners that will work hand-in-hand with them to meet those goals. This is important to having a collaborative and, ultimately, long-lasting partnership.
Does it offer ongoing professional development?
We have all seen and heard about implementations gone wrong when technology is purchased and given to the students or educators without appropriate professional development. Bottom line: Technology is only good when it is used with fidelity, and ongoing PD is needed to ensure this.
Find out if the prospective edtech partner offers regular webinars or training sessions for staff, has dedicated support teams that educators can call on, and/or provides ongoing opportunities for educators to learn about new technology offerings or hone their existing technology skills. These are all important in supporting educators and making sure the technology purchased is being used frequently and effectively.
What is its reputation in the industry?
When considering an edtech partner, district leaders should ask themselves, “Do my peers know this company and respect it? Have my peers worked with this company? Does the company have good service, warranty, and overall reputation?”
Whether choosing a start-up or an established company, it is important to look at the company’s track record to make sure it puts its customers first. It’s always a good idea to ask for district references and hear about their experiences with the company before making any long-term commitment.
Will it have my back?
If adopting a technology to improve educators’ skills or increase student achievement, progress may be slow. And, this means that district leaders may have to revisit their training or approach over time.
When this happens, will the company have the district’s back? Is it willing to work with the district leaders even after a sale to make sure they are successful? This all goes back to ensuring that a company will work hand-in-hand with a district to help ensure their success—both at the beginning of an implementation and in the long term.
As a head of an edtech company myself, I understand the choices—as well as the responsibility—district leaders have when choosing an edtech partner. These four considerations will help guide them in making the best choice for the educators, students, and families they serve.
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