Beginning this month, you and your colleagues will have a new ally to help you make better purchasing decisions: eSchool News has created a free internet resource that will help you find, compare, and evaluate companies that provide technology products and services to K-12 education.

“In most states and cities, money for education is tighter than it’s been in years,” noted Gregg W. Downey, editor and publisher of eSchool News. “Funding for school technology is expected to be down again this school year. So now, more than ever, educators need to become still more adept at managing their smaller budgets. And that means savvy purchasing is essential.”

The School Technology Buyer’s Guide is a comprehensive, one-stop source of vendor information. Facts and figures on some 3,500 school technology vendors are now available to educators online, 24-7.

The guide’s home page allows users to search the online database for information by company name, keyword, or vendor category. Search results are returned as a list of links to the vendor listings that match the search criteria. Each listing contains the company’s mailing and web-site addresses, toll-free numbers, product descriptions, key contacts, and other relevant information.

The School Technology Buyer’s Guide is designed to be easy to use for both educators and companies that sell technology to schools. The online guide consists of a number of integrated features, supported by a single underlying database.

Soon, educators using the guide will be able to rate listed vendors on key performance characteristics. These ratings will be based on the educators’ personal experiences and impressions, similar to the way visitors to Amazon.com rate books and music and write reviews of those products.

Areas on which educators will be able to rate technology companies will include quality of service, fairness of price, promptness of delivery, the match between products and promises, and the availability and quality of training or technical support.

Educators will be able to provide responsible comments on their experiences with individual companies. These anecdotes will be presented for peer consideration and will form an increasingly rich repository of real-life information. Companies mentioned in this way also will be allowed to offer rebuttals or amplifications of the comments posted by educators.

The guide allows users to check off any two or more vendors whose information they wish to compare. A click of the mouse calls up side-by-side comparisons of multiple companies.

Visitors to the site also can check off the names of vendors from whom they wish to receive additional information. Pop-up forms offer users the opportunity to provide their names and addresses to those vendors they wish to hear from. This means school users receive information from only those companies they are actually interested in.

Information in the School Technology Buyer’s Guide was compiled from the listings in eSchool News’ print guide—the School Technology OneBook. With the electronic version, companies have the ability to update their listings or add new ones free of charge through a special vendor portal, which features an easy-to-use interface designed specifically for vendor use.

All prospective listings are reviewed by an eSchool News staff member to ensure compliance with the policies of the Buyer’s Guide. As a result, educators will have a continuously updated, accurate, and comprehensive resource that will enhance their ability to make smart technology pur- chases.

Related links:
K-12 School Technology Buyer’s Guide
http://www.eschoolnews.org/bg