If you’re in the market to buy a product or service to enhance the educational technology in your school, what are the questions you should be asking potential suppliers? Definitely not “What is your response time?” Here are 8 suggestions for questions you should ask instead, and why the response time one is not very useful.
- What does it do?
- Does it do X, where “X” is a broad functional specification. (Eg, “Will it enable all pupils to use the printer from any device?”)
- What does it cost?
- What online and/or phone help is available?
- Can you provide me with details of three reference sites?
- What is the interoperability/compatibility of this product with other products we already have (eg the information management system your school uses)?
- What are the minimum hardware/infrastructure/operating system/software requirements for this product to work?
- What is your fix time, ie the time you take to sort a problem out? NB: Do not ask what their response time is, because that tells you nothing. You could receive an automated response immediately, but not receive actual assistance for several days.
I wrote this piece especially for the Bett show, but it is applicable more generally. For even more great tips for the Bett show and ed tech conferences in general, check out Getting the best out of Bett, 2014 edition.
cross-posted on www.ictineducation.org
Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant with over 35 years of experience in education. He publishes the ICT in Education website and the newsletter “Computers in Classrooms."