"Procurement" sends chills down many spines because all too often the process of finding and buying technology, curriculum and other resources has become laborious and confusing. Particularly over the last five years, the job has gotten tougher for people running schools—from teachers to principals to chief academic officers, district leaders and even the school boards—as they contemplate the arrival of an onslaught of what look like promising but at times complex edtech products.
That process, reports James Madison University professor David Slykhuis, is challenging, especially when it pushes educators to worry more about "keeping up with the Joneses" than figuring out what students really need.
"Sometimes, we get lost in the weeds of what product will meet the 'Request for Proposal' and how can we get the most devices for our dollar," says Slykhuis, who is also President of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. "But the real intended outcome should be to improve student learning."
No educator should have to go through the procurement process alone. So, EdSurge has compiled this collection of articles about choosing, vetting, and purchasing edtech products, along with a shortlist of eight resources to help along the way. In this guide, you'll find articles on:
- Figuring out what you need;
- Choosing and vetting products, including the right questions to ask; and
- Buying and implementing tools, from pilots to evaluating products once you purchase them.
We expect there are more efforts in the works. (Got some great pointers? Please add them in the comments section below or drop us a note here.) We'll keep updating this guide in the months ahead.
And if you're curious to learn what other schools and districts are looking for, take a look below for some data on the biggest edtech needs.
Figuring Out What You Need
It's easy to get distracted by what fellow educators down the street are using, or to be swayed by how frequently tools get mentioned in the media. Instead, the starting point should always be: What will work best for you, your students and the other adults on your campus?
The selections below dive into the specifics of why we tend to choose certain tools, as well as key methods to follow when assessing the gaps that need to be filled.
Choosing and Vetting Products
There's no shortage of edtech tools out there—in fact, the EdSurge Index lists more than 2,200 products and the collection continues to grow. How do you begin to choose what works best for you and your students? Below are a few articles that touch on key questions that other educators use when choosing edtech tools.
So You’re Ready to Buy and Implement…
Already have an idea of what tools you'd like to use during the next school year? Not so fast—have you thought through the implementation process? How about how you'll evaluate the tools as you use them? Will you run a pilot first? Here are insights from others' experiences.
The Shortlist: Eight Resources to Help You Ease the Procurement Process
Here are a handful of procurement resources to get you started. Are you using another tool or approach? Please share it! Drop your pointers in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
||Balefire Labs App Reviews
||Free. Reviews of educational apps and games.|
|Teacher reviews on edtech tools and privacy evaluations of edtech tools||Free. Privacy reviews include scores on "security" and "compliance."|
||Concierge and Edtech Selection Playbook||Free. Helps school leaders identify edtech tools that fit their needs.
||DP's Edtech Pilot Framework; its Research map and top examples of edtech research||Free. Aggregates information on research findings available on edtech tools.
||Learn Trials||Helps schools manage their teachers’ evaluations of the edtech tools that they use.
|Mathematica and the U.S. Department of Education
||Edtech Rapid Cycle Evaluation (RCE) Coach||Free. Online, openly-licensed platform that takes districts and schools through the process of evaluating and choosing tools.|
||Noodle Markets||Free. Building a platform for buying anything in a school, including edtech products.|
|Technology for Education Consortium (TEC)
||Report on Edtech Funding Under ESSA 2016
||TEC also compiles pricing information on edtech tools; more info about that here.|