Several corporate leaders have banded together to serve school customers better through the SchoolTone Alliance, a group of ed-tech companies focused on promoting the use of internet technologies in schools. At the group’s annual meeting, held June 17 at NECC, members discussed opportunities for companies that provide web services, tools, and applications for education to work together.

For example, the alliance is seeking to identify large, statewide requests for proposals, where several of its members can work together to provide schools with the necessary technology products and services. The group now also produces a monthly electronic newsletter about policy issues that are relevant to K-12 schools, so its members can better understand the needs of their school customers, and members can share case studies and best practices with each other through the SchoolTone Alliance web site.

At the meeting, John Bailey, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, encouraged vendors to target underperforming school districts as showcase sites for how their technology solutions can turn a school district around.

Bailey also suggested that members lose the tech jargon and speak to educators in plain English so they can be understood more easily. He added that vendors should start reaching out to educators who are not actively engaged with technology—such as grant writers for school reading programs—but who could use technology as a solution.

Melinda George, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), reportedly recommended that vendors read state technology plans before they contact state officials. In addition to its other listservs, SETDA also is creating a corporate listserv for education vendors, George said.

SchoolTone Alliance member companies include AOL@School, bigchalk, Blackboard Inc., Citrix Systems Inc., Lucent Technologies, National Semiconductor, ACTV HyperTV Networks, Sun Microsystems, and Verizon.

Related links:
SchoolTone Alliance
http://www.schooltone.com

State Educational Technology Directors Association
http://www.setda.org