In the world of edtech purchasing, a gap often exists between the users and the buyers. A tech director, principal, or other administrator is charged with selecting tools that teachers and students will rely on day to day.
This gap is product selection can be a challenge.
What this gap means is that we need really great conversations between educators and tech decision makers to ensure that tech selected is going to match the user’s needs. When teachers and students are kept out of edtech-buying conversations, platforms are chosen that don’t support learning gains. Users eventually stop using it; instead, they turn to free solutions or drop digital components from their course.
Seems like a waste.
We want to advocate for robust, regular, and informative exchanges between the people who pick the tools and the people who need ‘em. If you're on the user side, today is your lucky day. We have a few tips for how to ask for new edtech in a way that your director of tech can’t ignore.
There’s a reason that schools hire people to research, review, maintain, and select new technology. It’s a lot of work. There are budget factors, implementation timelines, contractual obligations with vendors, and product requests coming from every angle.
If your school edtech isn’t getting the job done, get on your admin’s radar without being just another feature request. It’s likely your edtech decision maker(s) already have a long list of feature requests for your school’s next edtech platform that have been vocalized already.
Get on your admin’s radar without being just another feature request.
Instead, look for opportunities to involve users in the selection process. Suggest periods of time that would work for including faculty or students in searching for or testing new tools. Ask if and when your contract is up with your current edtech provider and how you can be supportive in getting an awesome new tool implemented in the future.
I know we’re figuring out what to prioritize during our upcoming personal development sessions. I was wondering if there was any opportunity to talk about future tech tools or platforms that might be a good fit for us. What do you think?
Is it true that our contract with [x bad edtech platform] is up at the end of this year? It seems like an awesome opportunity to transition to something that is more widely used by teachers and students. Is there any way I can help with that process?
I heard we were beginning to search for a new school-wide LMS. I wanted to let you know that I’m completely in support of that and would love support the process, if possible.
I was wondering if there was an opportunity for teachers to be involved in the search for our next LMS. I’d love to support the process.
Will we be looking at any new edtech tools this summer? Is that something teachers could be involved with?
Have a Use Case Ready
If new learning platforms weren’t on the radar of your admins, it’s plausible your conversation might be less about getting involved in process already in motion and more about making the case for new tech.
Our number one tip? Have a real-world example (a use case) of how technology could support learning. Asking for technology just because it would be nice isn’t a huge motivator for an admin to begin a school-wide, tedious, laborious tech search and implementation.
Illustrating that classrooms (plural!) would be better supported by a new edtech solution is vital to any tech-related ask.
Highlight the learning outcome or obstacle you’re solving for instead of the product feature you believe accomplishes that.
Another pro tip? This is where it’s easy to fall down the feature rabbit hole. “I want electronic quizzes” or “I need badges for my students,” so on and so forth. These features are cool. And we have no doubt you’d make great use of ‘em, but you’ll have a better conversation if you highlight the learning outcome or obstacle you’re solving for instead of the product feature you believe accomplishes that.
For example, instead of telling your tech director that you need badges in your life, consider saying that you’re looking for impactful ways to provide feedback and illustrate progress with your students. You want a solution that not only helps students see their progress, but motivates and engages them.
When all is said and done, badges might very well be the solution, but you might discover interesting, powerful alternatives by remaining open to a variety of tech options.
I’ve always been frustrated by my current grading workflow. If there was a way to pair a more powerful grading system with Google Apps, that would cut time in half for many of us.
Drowning in parent e-mails has always been a frustration for me. I get multiple e-mails on the same topic. Parents of the same child e-mail me about similar things separately. Is there a tool that could make my parent communication more fluid? More efficient?
As we look for a new learning platform, I wonder if we’re looking for anything that would encourage discussion outside of class. Tools that a student could use to ask a question to myself or classmates after school. Being able to do that would really be really big for some of my less-engaged classes.
If a student’s main source of internet outside of school was a smartphone, how could we ensure our next LMS is mobile friendly? I have several students primarily using phones outside of school.
Propose Solutions, Remain Open
It’s hard to ignore really great platforms when you’ve found a tool you love using and would want your school to consider. That’s super reasonable.
Going to your tech person with suggestions for tools that your entire school might benefit from is wonderful. You should do it! Knowledge is power! Don’t keep great tools to yourself!
Just be sure to highlight the specific reasons you like the tool and remain open to other, similar options for your school-wide community.
Highlight the specific reasons you like the tool and remain open to other, similar options for your school-wide community.
Selecting technology that fits your school’s vision and learning goals is a tall order. There are a lot of needs/demands/requests to consider. You’ll be the most impactful by not just highlighting a tool, but explaining why this tool has improved your classroom - and could conceivably improve other classrooms. Understand that there might be other platforms out there that have the same qualities you like, but serve other needs in other classrooms.
In this way, you’re handing your IT director concrete feedback about what works alongside an example. By remaining open to similar tools, you’ll be supportive of a procurement process that aims to match tech with your entire school’s needs.
Electronic standards-based grading has always been a challenge, but I have found a tool with a fantastic rubric-based grading workflow. It grades Google Drive Docs, which has been a huge time saver. Would love to get something like this on your radar.
I had great success with x tool this semester. I found the messaging component was wildly helpful in getting my students connected after class. Tools with this collaborative focus might be a good fit for us. Would be great if you could take a look.
I wanted to show you x tool. I gave this a try recently and was floored by how easy to use it was. That ease-of-use saved me (and my class) a lot of time. Thought you might be interested as we look for a new LMS.