Most educators have done it.
They bought an edtech product from a company, only to discover that the product didn’t work the way the company promised. A defect was never resolved, or users didn’t realize they needed additional software or tools. Training didn’t happen. Attempts to reach customer service failed, and the salesperson never returned calls or emails.
Eventually, the administrators and teachers shelved the product next to all the other disappointing products that didn’t work, required extensive add-ons, or had limited professional development and less customer service.
Edtech solutions can benefit students and teachers, but only if edtech companies deliver on their promises. You can make edtech companies deliver on their promises, and here’s how.
Require partnerships, not products
Schools purchase edtech products, thinking that this solution will solve their pain point once and for all. The purchase order gets paid, and everyone goes their separate ways.
In reality, edtech solutions work best when there is an ongoing partnership between the company and the school. The purchase of an edtech product should initiate a collaborative relationship of give and take between both parties.
The edtech company-school partnership is a recursive loop. The company provides a tech solution in its Minimum Viable Product (MVP) form, and the school incorporates its use in instruction. When the school provides feedback, the edtech company can refine its product, which benefits both the company and especially the students in the school. Each communication improves product iterations, creating a win for all parties.
The win comes from partnership.
Avoid the edtech products that exclude
Schools teach inclusiveness and equality. Their mission is to assure that every learner has equitable access to the curriculum, resources, and tools provided.
In response, edtech companies promise tech solutions to assist students in their learning, but how helpful are those tools?
Educators must ensure that any of those resources embrace diversity. Edtech solutions that use pejorative, sexist, or disparaging word choice have no place in an organization’s tech arsenal, especially in academic settings.
A refusal to purchase any product that excludes populations of learners sends a message that exclusionary language will not be tolerated.
Understand what you’re buying
With the limited budgets and full schedules that most schools have, administrators want to purchase edtech products that are effective in cost and time.
Many products, however, consist of a single component designed to work in tandem with other products and add-ons. While the edtech product may work on its own, a company that promotes additional gadgets and tools could consume your tech budget quickly.
To fully understand what you are getting, ask questions like these:
- What technology do we need to get the most benefit from this product?
- What professional development and continued support do you provide?
- How do you respond to glitches in your program?
- Which of your clients can I talk to about your product?
- How do you manage student data?
If you’re not completely satisfied with the answers, it may be best to move on. It’s the only way to make edtech companies deliver on their promises.