With the proliferation of #edtech products comes an unexpected squeeze, not on your wallet as much as on your schedule. You may want to consider the full cost of #edtech to your school or district at purchase or renewal. That full cost includes time, spent on training and the cost of not training, as well as monetary costs.
If you have an educational pain point, there is probably a technology to overcome it. Since there are innumerable start-ups in addition to the technology giants, you have to find it however. And that is difficult. Hours of research may go into solution locating, in advance of purchase.
Could your PLN (Professional/Personal Learning Network) save you some time by providing feedback on softwares solving your same problems? #EdTechChat, #ETCoaches and #FutureReady communities are all places to connect and learn from each other. You can save time by networking and finding implemented solutions which already work.
Hidden costs of integration of #edtech products are an increasingly relevant consideration. Integration requests may range from Single Sign-On (SSO) to fuller Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) solutions and are a part of the total cost of ownership (TCO). Consider creating a school/district position on the optimal integration and make progress toward only purchasing from companies who meet that standard. #edtech companies respond to market forces and move toward these integrations; a united front from educational customers should make integrations a reality sooner. Find and encourage #edtech companies making progress in this area. Often a vendor’s first steps are utilizing Google accounts for SSO. Check out IMS Global Certified Public Directory to choose from already integrated/able products.
Not only the time and price of integration is worth considering, but also the potential loss of time and funds when systems are not integrated is considerable. How valuable is an non-integrated software if it is easier for Blended Learning environments to point to other softwares which sign students/teachers in automatically?
When the number of softwares were fewer it was easier to fit trainings on a school calendar. Initially, people needed to gain confidence in softwares, learn the logic of computer programs, and generally experience software for the first time with the security of an expert present. As #edtech softwares increased in number, educators accumulated technical knowledge and had greater confidence, generally demanding less feature overviews and more application-based trainings.
There are now so many #edtech softwares that schools or districts may choose to forgo training. This also has predictable costs. Those could be under-utilization, teacher frustrations. In such cases, consider purchasing email or phone support with products. For softwares which require a lengthy commitment to training, schedule a distributing training model; rotate in fresh learners with existing learners over time to build lasting, long-reaching competence in the software.
Consider the next, most interesting, evolution of the old vendor trainings – embedding training into professional learning. Personalized, professional learning; just in time, just what is needed to make the professional learning work. The days of enough time to swallow the prefabricated training from a vendor are past. Leaders at schools and districts can demand customization, portability, and flexibility from vendors competing for your educational purchases. Make training fold into components of your school/district organized professional development. Ask vendors for digital content to add to your Learning Management System (LMS), ask for training in chunks throughout the year via webinars, recorded sessions, and on-demand resources. A dedication to folding training into school/district-aligned professional learning can result in an adequate and responsive support as part of a #FutureReady robust infrastructure.
Your time researching, integrating, and training are valuable. These are part of the TCO of any #edtech and worth discussion in advance of purchase.