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Justin Chando By Justin Chando • May 4, 2016

The Playbook for Choosing an LMS is Broken

We've been dropping hints for a while now that we'd be releasing a new resource on edtech procurement this spring. (Everyone's favorite topic of conversation!) Well, it's here. Our new, free e-book Rewriting the Procurement Playbook: Selecting the LMS That is Right for Your School is now available.

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The Playbook for Choosing an LMS is Broken

I’m sitting in a meeting with a school (let’s call them “The Super Awesome School of Excellence”) that is interested in learning more about the product my company makes. They’re in the market for a new learning platform and mine might just fit the bill.

As we settle into the meeting, I ask my standard questions:

  • How big is your school?

  • What is your current edtech setup like?

  • Why are you looking for new technology?

  • What’s the goal for new tech at The Super Awesome School of Excellence?

That’s when they show me the matrix - a dizzying set of 14 color-coded columns with different requests from teachers. Some of the columns have broad categories scrawled across the header like “communication features” or “assignment capability,” while others have a laser-sharp focus, like “includes badge system” and “e-portfolios.”

Yikes.

I’m still unclear on how the points system works within their matrix. I can tell you that giving a product a “1” gave them 10 points and giving them a “10” gave them 1 point. I can’t even begin to understand that, but let’s move on. It was a system that (maybe) made sense to the people who were using it.

My intent here is not to say that educators shouldn’t want to use badges or set up e-portfolio systems. Not at all. There are fabulous examples across the country of educators using these tools to engage their students and track solid learning gains. But I don’t see badges as a goal for new technology. I don’t see e-portfolios as a singular vision for the future of a school or a reason to go through a technology procurement process. I see these things as tools that support a larger learning goal.

Technology isn't magic. It doesn't engage and excite students on its own. But people procure and pilot new technology as if it does.

Technology isn't magic. It doesn't engage and excite students on its own. But people procure and pilot new technology as if it does.

I asked my team to help me create a resource on selecting learning technology that is truly a match for a school’s needs because I think the current playbook is broken. I’m seeing too many schools prioritize singular features over real learning goals. I’m seeing unreasonable expectations for what tech is going to accomplish. And I’m too often seeing schools end up with overly-complicated technology solutions that aren’t a match for the majority of their school community. (I’ll explain why this happens later.)

I want to share ideas and best practices I’ve seen work wonders for finding learning technology that genuinely supports a school’s vision for learning. (I’m talking about technology that your school community will actually use.)

Before we start, I want you to do something.

I want you to open a new tab or a blank Google Doc or grab a piece of paper and write down your school’s mission statement. If you don’t know it - or your school doesn’t have one - I want you to write down your personal mission statement as an educator or a lifelong learner. Keep this statement near as you consume this resource.

Just as I would hope any school would do as they research and procure new technology, I want us to keep our eyes on the big picture.

 The full resource is now available.

Rewriting the Procurement Playbook: