Choosing which new education technology to invest your time and money in can be mind boggling, and often you stick with legacy products or systems because it seems like the easier option. But what if you’re missing out on something that could actually make a big impact on your teaching?
Here are 5 handy tips to help make shopping around a bit easier:
- Audit your existing online resources and systems, and identify common sticking points that interfere with using any of them to their full potential. Remember, the greatest tech-enabled education solution is rendered absolutely useless if the relevant end users can’t access things where and when they need them. Don’t forget to ask all relevant end users/stakeholders for their input e.g. teachers, TAs, school admin, parents, students, school suppliers etc
- Talk to other schools about what tech/apps/resources/systems they use. There’s nothing like hearing it from the horse’s mouth to help you decide what next piece of tech to invest in. Similarly, ask a company for case studies and testimonials if they have them.
- Take those free trials and demos. If an online platform or school system peaks your interest, get in touch with the company and ask to try things out for yourself. No one likes a hard sell, but if there’s an option to speak with someone as part of a ‘Discovery Call’ (i.e. no-obligation demo) then take it. It’ll save so much of your time trying to figure out how to get the best out of a trial (if that’s an option), and you’ll also get the chance to ask questions specific to your school setting (bog-standard FAQs have their limitations).
- Think about how a new bit of classroom or school tech will integrate with any legacy systems you already have. It’s all very well adding a new learning platform or school management system to the mix, but how will this fit within the wider school IT ecosystem?
- If you decide to sign up to something new, what ongoing support and communication can you expect from the company? Choose organisations who offer clear levels of service so that you not only get peace of mind should something go wrong, but more importantly you get continual support to ensure you are getting the most out of your purchase. If you only use a small percentage of what the platform/app/system etc is capable of you’re either missing a big trick, or else need to re-evaluate your needs.