Finding, evaluating, and buying the right technologies can be hard for K-12 leaders—but a number of new services promise to help.
During the 2016 South by Southwest Education (SXSWedu) conference in Austin, Texas, a session called “Begging for Disruption: Ed-Tech Procurement” highlighted four new services that aim to simplify Ed-Tech purchasing.
Here’s how each of these services might make the process easier for K-12 administrators:
- The Technology for Education Consortium (TEC), a nonprofit organization that just launched in February, hopes to bring more transparency to the buying process. School systems can join TEC free of charge. As members, they can benefit from the collective wisdom and buying experiences of other consortium members—including the discounts they’ve negotiated with Ed-Tech vendors and problems they’ve encountered with implementation. Members of the consortium reportedly include six of the nation’s 10 largest school systems so far, representing more than 9 million students altogether.
- Noodle Markets is an online marketplace of vendors, products, and services. Users can compare products, read third-party product reviews, and create requests for proposals that vendors can respond to. Registration is free for educators and administrators, while vendors pay a fee for the ability to peruse and respond to RFPs filed through the system.
- EdTech Concierge is a service that matches schools with “a short list of possible solutions to their needs,” said Senior Product Manager Leonard Medlock. K-12 leaders schedule a phone call to identify their needs, and then Ed-Tech Concierge assembles a list of options, discusses these with the client, and makes introductions to the companies whose products best fill the bill.
- LearnTrials is a platform that helps K-12 leaders run Ed-Tech pilots and quickly determine the efficacy of the software they’re evaluating. CEO Karl Rectanus described LearnTrials as “an Ed-Tech ecosystem” that provides visibility for school district CIOs into how software is used in their district.
“We can run a rigorous analysis of an Ed-Tech pilot in up to two days,” he said—a process that typically takes large school systems several months to complete. The platform also aggregates user feedback, so school district leaders can pass this information along to the vendor easily—resulting in better implementation.