I found myself humming Don’t Be Cruel by the King—thinking about this post—because cruel treatment is what you’ll get if you go cheap rather than spend appropriately to get the education technology you really need. I also need to say that I was thinking and humming to the chattering of my cheap electric razor. Yes, I went for cheap, and knew on first shave that my new razor shaved no better than a dull clam shell.
My theory in the store was to get one that worked, and was a lot less expensive than the great one I’d had for years, which now cost as much as celebrity basketball shoes. My research was slim; I read prices and sides of boxes. So, I chose the cheapest with nicest descriptive words. Unfortunately, you can’t try a razor out in the store. My wife gets embarrassed when I ask to do stuff like that.
“Pardon me young lady, I’d like to try out this cheap razor before buying it. Where can I plug it in?”
“Oh, sir, I’m afraid you can’t do that.”
“Hmmmm, too bad, my next question was going to be about the candy aisle.”
So, what’s the point Royal? What does this have to do with education, technology, or anything? Well, as it turns out, a whole lot! If you’re purchasing anything in education, you can try it out first. Therefore, you should never get stuck with something cheap that doesn’t work. If you do, it’s your own fault. No one wants to live with a tech mistake, like I have to live with my cheap razor.
Believe me, I can’t wait to purchase the razor I should have gotten in the first place. Luckily, I can just go out and do it—right after the moths stop flying out of my wallet. But if you purchase an edtech mistake, it can live with you for 3 to 5 years. And if you’re responsible for the mistake purchase, cheap tech may outlive your district stay.
Here’s what I recommend, figure out what you need to do and start from curricula, students, educators, schools, district, and community point. Decide on some tech options, or solutions to check. Round up a nice assortment. OK, throw in some cheaper ones, too. You need contrast and comparisons. Then contact some companies that do what you need to do—and ask for a representative.
If your district has a purchasing plan or pre-selected companies, you’ll need to know which companies are on the list, but there’s no reason to avoid contacting companies outside the list. There are ways to make that select list larger, and chances are good company representatives have already crossed that bridge.
The best thing is to try all the options/solutions out. Ask for extended pilots, trials, and some presentations—maybe even a professional development to boot. I’ve discovered that most edtech company reps today have teaching backgrounds and are passionate about education, so you’ll get more that plug in advice. The bottom line is that getting help for making education technology change is available, and a good thing. It may keep you from making an expensive mistake that looks too good to be true—and is. Don’t be cheap; purchase what works.