If you are not immersed in educational technology (#edtech) daily you are excused from the memorization of these red flag terms used while vendors try to sell either educational hardware of software. That is however where I live, in #edtech land. And I need a quick chat with you, so that you are not drawn into a pitch on the vendor floor this summer/conference season. When you start ticking off the following phrases in your head, or as they tumble out of the mouthes of those around you during a sales pitch, these are red flags and they mean something:
“How would a Kindergarten/Math teacher use this?”
Whoa, if you are that teacher and no immediate savings in time/effort or improved learning opportunity for your students is apparent – back away from that #edtech. If the return on investment is not readily apparent the presenter is either inept or the product/device is not he right fit for you.
None of your Educational Goals are Present
Not once have you heard any of your major goals for your students represented as outcomes or functions of the device/software offered.
ALL of your Educational Goals are Present
If you hear that this device or software will accomplish all of your educational goals for your students, you have permission to be skeptical and ask for their research supporting that range of claims.
This ship has sailed. If your “shop” doesn’t already have “One Stop,” it isn’t likely going to come from someone pitching you. If your district/school is shopping for/buying a very large (read: expensive) piece of software to centralize everything then you maybe roll the red flag back up. But if this is some random piece of software it is highly unlikely. So, unless you are making decisions for the entire school district – let your mental red flag fly.
Manage Your Own Username/Passwords
This usually gets trotted out when the vendor feels you might be interested, but you have either asked a good question or s/he wants to disclose a potential downside while you are really warmed up. In this day of “Sign-in with Google” there is no reason you and/or your students should have to use/remember/forget/reset some unique UN?PW. See third-party providers like Clever and Ed-Fi typically change the vendor for being able to sign you in by just using their dashboard. The vendor is not likely to offer up to pay for this, so you wave your red flag and ask early and often in the conversation.
And if you’re feeling really fancy-pants….
You can ask the vendor if they are LTI Compliant.
Learning Tools Interoperability probably is not on your radar. It really does not need to be unless you are int he Tech Department. But, if you want to go there… LTI is a standard which IMS Global Learning Consortium publishes which vendors can build toward which offers the ability to connect your tools to your platforms at varying levels of seemlessness.
Many vendors want to work with you on complementary products and services to what you already have or actually need. However, unless you can weed them out from the others who do not have your best interest at heart it does you no good. So when you travel to that next conference be sure to pack you red flag if you aren’t lucky enough to travel with your Tech Department.