5 Tips for Making Purchases in Education

Education is changing! I’m sure you feel it too. You don’t have to choose between three educational content providers. There are hundreds of growing companies eager to solve challenges and needs of 21st-century classrooms. New technologies and new choices are making it easier than ever to meet the needs of all the world’s children! But now schools, educators, and companies are adjusting their purchasing processes to the 21st Century and it is proving to be challenging.

The Education Industry Association recently partnered with the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University to better understand the challenges and areas for innovation in the rapidly changing world of education. They found that only 4% of companies think that today’s ed-tech procurement processes meet contemporary needs resulting in higher product costs. The same is true on the educator’s side of purchasing. Only 36% of curriculum directors report satisfaction with time spent on procurement.

Just like in life, examining these shortcomings lead to some great ideas on how we can improve!

1. Seeing is believing!

The number one way to get funding approved is to test it in your school or classroom. Over 60% of districts rely on end user recommendations to make decisions. Once you feel confident about using this new tool, invite your principal or administrator to see the magic.  Who can deny that engagement?!

2. Start with a small pilot

As an extension of number one, remember you don’t have to start with your entire district or school. In fact, 62% of districts rely on pilots to make larger purchasing decisions.  Administrators work hard to meet the needs of everyone, and sometimes that means starting small and working your way up.

We work with districts across the country who selected 10-30% of their schools or teachers to test Kodable. Many of the districts that use Kodable now, started with one school or grade level. After a successful roll out, they decided to include more locations in the coding fun. Pilots are a fantastic way to prove the feasibility and results of a product.

3. More than an app

Apps are rarely allotted any district funds, but many companies offer far more than what is apparent in their student facing app. Check their resources and website to make sure you’re getting the most out of the product. In our experience, teachers who use the Kodable lesson plans and progress tracking are far more likely to get support from their administrators.

We often set up onboarding calls with educators to help them feel confident getting the most out of our curriculum. Do your research to see what options are available to you from the company. If you’re planning to work a new product into your curriculum, let administrators see you using all the resources it has to offer. If you know how to use the product successfully, it will be clear and you can explain the benefits more effectively.

4. Parents can help

Parents are amazing allies. If you have a supportive PTA or room parent, ask them to come watch a lesson. Talk to them about the benefits of the tool you’re using and why it is helping their children. At the very least you’ll get some support to talk to your administrator about. Some teachers have success with fundraising as a class, having a bake sale, or asking each parent to donate a few dollars.

Turning to parents has been especially successful with computer science. Parents see the benefit of knowing how to code every day at work. We have a template letter to parents available here.

5. Be proactive about purchasing

Once you make a decision to purchase, don’t let the process stall.  Everyone wants to ensure the right decision is being made, which is why research, pilots, and recommendations are so helpful. However, only 36% of curriculum directors say they are satisfied with the time it takes to make purchases. Learn about your district’s purchasing processes so you can have an impact on the amount of time it takes to implement a new solution.

I’ve spent the past two years learning about purchasing in education. There are so many ways that a great product can get lost in the shuffle. Teacher’s voices are valued and heard, but so many aren’t sure how to share their opinion.

We recently added purchase processing to the Kodable teacher dashboard. It follows the purchasing process of the majority of districts.  From there you can see exactly where you are in the process and you can keep everyone involved moving forward.

  1. Simply request a quote, then you can send it to the principal or director responsible for approving it.
  2. Your administrator can approve it and easily pass it on to the business office for purchasing.

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Each person in an organization has a role in the purchasing decision. It’s a complicated system, but we’re all working together to improve it. If you’re using Kodable with your students, check out our new purchasing page, it’s our first step toward putting purchasing power in the hands of educators.

 

Teachers – Voice your opinion to get the ball rolling.

Principals – Participate in pilots to prove results and find something your teachers will like using.

Directors and Superintendents – Identify individuals who you know will have helpful feedback on products and student outcomes when testing new ideas.

Companies – Provide resources and reliable data to your users so they can make the best decision.

 

Sources: Education Industry Association, and Digital Promise. “Improving Ed-Tech Purchasing.” Digital Promise, Mar. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

http://www.digitalpromise.org/blog/entry/improving-ed-tech-purchasing

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