How do you approach the process of investigating a new product, app, program, instructional strategy, device, software, hardware, curriculum, [insert new initiative here]?
From a purchasing standpoint, price point is important, I get it. But most affordable does not translate into most effective for kids, teachers, and learning.
What about purpose? What about total cost of ownership? What about value added? What about ease of use? What about technical support?
In my new role, I’m able to provide insight into the myriad of decisions that go into educational technology planning, purchasing, roll-out, professional development, and support processes.
Is my voice always heard? The voices of the teachers and principals? No. We still have to work to do strengthening the lines of technology + education communications. That will only come with the establishment of trust and mutual respect over time.
But when I’m considering a new app, a new program, a new strategy, what I really want to do, more than research the product online, more than listen to a sales pitch, more than look at the financial bottom line, is talk to someone.
Oh, you’re using that product? Tell me about it.
How do you like it? How does it work? What are the glitches? How does it support student learning? How is it supported? What can you tell me that a vendor can’t tell me?
I use phone calls. I use email. I ask our blossoming Google+ instructional tech community. I inquire during our monthly IU13 tech integrators meetings. I tweet about it.
Being connected means that I have access to educators with experience, some very similar to my own, and some very different from mine. I have access to smart people who have implemented, assessed, questioned, purchased, developed, and shared their ideas with me.
I am lucky.
From an educational perspective, the input and voice of teachers, students, coaches and principals MUST be sought with every technology purchase consideration.
And helping to guide our research are the voices of educators from around the world who share their ideas and experiences with others.
Does your school/district/division have a plan for including educational voices in the technology integration decision-making process? I’d love to hear about your framework and strategies to ensure a) educational voices are heard and b) the results of those decisions are evaluated and assessed to ensure we’re always doing what’s best for kids.
P.S. I know “education” and “technology” should be synonymous. I get it. Using technology meaningfully should just be part of what we do. Right now, we and many other schools are still working to build that bridge, so…. tell me about your successes so we can learn from you.
photo credit: MyDigitalSLR via photopin cc
2 Replies to “Tell me about it.”
Lyn, the process you’re talking about is somewhat of a moving target. Ideally, we would like to have as many voices as possible in the integration/decision making process. There are periods of time where we’re able to get more input from stakeholders than at others. Sometimes, it comes from the times we’ve been in classrooms with teachers, in face to face and online conversations, and the research we’ve done. Decisions we help shape/make come from the trust we’ve established with those we work with and serve.
As a tech. coordinator, the first year in our district I spent most of my time trying to build relationships and meet felt needs. Teachers, in particular, had lost all confidence in getting their technology & integration needs taken care of. Technology integration was in serious trouble. As a result of the time I spent working with/for teachers, in particular, they developed a confidence that I would support their work, advocate for resources they needed, and help equip/coach as needed. Besides meeting felt needs, taking time to listen to and engage them in conversations about their lives in the classroom/school has been the most important aspect of “tell me about it.” I can see you being good at that. Honoring relationships is the foundation for all of the others tasks/decisions in our work.
Thank you for your kind words and adding your thoughts here. What jumped out at me immediately while reading your comment is when you mentioned spending time IN CLASSROOMS and IN SCHOOLS. That is such an important responsibility, and it clearly shows that you were dedicated to working closely with teachers to build relationships and help include them in the decision-making process. I know from my experience as a building principal that you can’t possibly include every voice in every decision-making process. But, when it comes to large-scale purchases and program adoptions, there must be a venue through which to gather teacher input and feedback.
Thanks again for commenting!