Education Purchases: Price of Success

Education Purchases: Price of Success

When I was a kid, Tony-the-Grocery-Man used to drive his truck to our house. He actually drove it to each house on the street. I looked forward to it. Going to a real store was a rare occurrence. I still remember the smell of fruit, vegetables, and cigar. That truck was packed with stuff, even when Tony upgraded to a larger van nothing but the amount of stuff he carried changed. I thought we’d see him always. That didn’t happen; change is inevitable, and most times beyond our guiding, best steering efforts, or wishing.

I was reminded of that tightly packed truck while visiting one of those big surplus—we-sell-everything stores. My wife, who shops like most hunters hunt, guided me through it. It was a Saturday. The store was packed, the aisles were way too narrow, and the carts were way too big. As I played a version of shopping cart bumper cars I wondered what the designs for the store must have looked like. I’m sure they looked good on paper—without shoppers in the aisles. I’m certain the plans must have called for putting the largest quantity of goods on the shelves and in the aisles. There was more stuff in that store, but quality was scarce—and you couldn’t even get to—or see most of it.

Sometimes things sound good in theory, or look good on paper, but in reality aren’t the best plans. That statement can apply to education and education technology. There are many choices and solution directions, but the best route provides a clear picture of what differentiates those choices, and makes finding the right ones easier.

While it may be a difficult time for some in the education marketplace, it is a great time for creative and innovative solutions. In the next 6 months, districts in the market for learning solutions will hear about new device releases, software and updates, as well as a few bargains for older, but still great and useful learning products.

Think, and if you can, try before you buy. Make sure education purchases are just that—based on true education needs—that work. Avoid buying into programs because they are cool, or because another district is doing something—unless it is your well-thought-out plan, too. Plan for end users—students and teachers—and make it the right fit. Learn if assessment options are part of the package, and if you’ll be able to gauge student achievement. The last thing you need is a plan that looks good on paper, but doesn’t work in reality—in real classrooms—with real students. Can you evaluate whether it works—or not?

You really do get what you pay for, so paying a little more for something, that meets your needs best, should be the approach. Expected icing on the purchasing cake is good service, creative and engaging content, as well as necessary professional development. The price of success is worth it.

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Ken Royal is a teacher/education and education technology blogger/reporter, video interviewer, podcaster, education event news commentator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology experience. His teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. Read more of Ken’s work at Royal Reports.