Before you head to the expo hall, I find reviewing my core beliefs about technology and learning help drive more meaningful conversations and find partners, instead of vendors.
I have three simple questions that guide my thinking:
1. Does it promote deep and/or authentic learning and engagement with a capitol “E”?
2. Does it allow us to do something that is good for learning better, faster, and/or easier?
3. Does it let us do something that wasn’t previously possible but has good prospects for drastically innovating student learning?
As I talk with a partner I ask these questions and process them in a simple 2 x 2 matrix.
1. Invest – High Pedagogy and High Innovation and/or Effectiveness
Look for those companies that have both a technology and pedagogical vision that aligns with you and your district/school/teachers. These are the partnerships that will pay the biggest dividends
2. Pilot – Low Pedagogy and High Innovation and/or Effectiveness
Don’t write these companies off right away. Sometimes these can be some of the most useful partners if they are willing to listen to you and develop features and tools that bring them into a higher level of pedagogical application. There are some really smart people that want to help educators but need a mentor to help them get there.
3. Discuss – High Pedagogy and Low Innovation and/or Effectiveness
Sometimes you’ll meet a vendor that has a great pedagogical approach to technology but have horrible execution of the underlying technology. Ask the vendors what their plan is to improve. Are they defensive or do they have a plan? I find that this space is often filled by existing partners that haven’t kept up with the times. It might be worth exploring other vendors that are doing similar things with better technology.
4. Avoid the Gimmicks – Low Pedagogy and Low Innovation and/or Effectiveness
We all know the companies that have great swag and great parties, but no substance. Avoid these folks. The are often retreading a tired ed tech idea in a pretty wrapper. Avoid them since they have little substance and nothing to add.
My time is the most valuable and limited resource I have so I choose to only invest it folks that want to invest in my students, staff, and community.