5 steps to move technology purchasing into the 21st century

Our district’s technology coordinator, Harold Jensen, has seen this first hand during an outdoor WAN project implementation this past year. It was tough to find qualified providers without a vetted marketplace or any true exchange of information, so countless hours were spent trying to find and vet a solid answer.

Once reserved for graduate school finance classes, school procurement is entering mainstream conversations. Recently, there have been three organizations pioneering the study of school procurement: Johns Hopkins University released a 170-page report (see our recommendations below). Digital Promise, a congressionally-mandated nonprofit and the Education Industry Association (EIA), an industry trade group, are also doing pioneering work. The basis of this work is fixing an antiquated system

Two years ago, I had the honor of leading one of Iowa’s first K-12 one-to-one tablet and laptop initiatives. This put a digital device in the hand of every student. Iowa has one of the highest density of such programs in the U.S., second only to Maine. To excel at both digital learning and one-to-one, procuring the right tools effectively and efficiently needs to be a cornerstone.

Here is how we took educational technology purchasing into the 21st Century for our students:

1. Get student involvement in technology purchasing decisions

In our district, students are included in the initial evaluation of a solution we are considering. We believe students need to evaluate the technology first-hand. Student input is weighted heavily and has proved nothing short of successful. It’s all about the kids.

2. Do your homework on the vendors you work with. Trust is important.

Vendors and schools need to be on the same page with technology and implementation. Having the “trust conversation” early with a vendor leads to optimal success for student learning. The focus needs to be on the students not the technology. Learning needs to take center stage, with the technology living more in the background. Trust and due diligence goes a long way. A recent post from Digital Promise goes in depth on this topic as well.

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