EdTech Trend: Purchasing Decentralization

Recently, my colleague Sarah Glover published an article in EdTech Times on the trend of purchasing decentralization in education and EdTech. In “Shifting Toward Decentralized Decisions About Technology for Schools,” Sarah discusses the reasons that technology purchasing is increasingly done at the school- and user-level and the implications for EdTech.

When it comes to software and technology devices, evaluation and purchasing in schools is increasingly done by the technology users themselves. When users are purchasers, EdTech companies must build with teachers, students, and communities in mind. I invite you to read Sarah’s take on what decentralization means for EdTech companies like Panorama Education and to check out the full post at the EdTech Times.

Who Do Technology Companies Build For?

The trend toward decentralized technology purchasing is exciting to me because it adds positive external pressure for EdTech companies to deliver user-friendly and valuable experiences to some of the most important end users: teachers, students, and parents. Put bluntly, EdTech companies will succeed or fail based on two key factors: 1) how we deliver value to individual users; and 2) how we enable communities of users to learn and derive value from one another.

The decentralization of technology purchasing means that the users and purchasing decision-makers tend to be closer together, working in the same buildings and evaluating products for their particular school communities. Maybe the buyer and user is actually the same person.  This means the person evaluating the product is also the primary user. This is a big shift from how purchasing has happened in education historically and has significant implications for product development and outreach.

In addition, because of the huge growth in technology tools to support individual student learning, school administrators and teachers will increasingly evaluate products used at the building-level directly. As a result, EdTech companies must now develop tools and services for teachers with teachers much more specifically in mind. Ideally, this pressure on the EdTech market will lead to better products that are more valuable and more useful to the end user.

Teachers and Students Are Key Stakeholders

At Panorama Education, we take seriously the feedback survey experience of every student, every teacher, every site coordinator, and every parent we encounter through our work. Even when our contracts are with districts we ask: Are we helping teachers improve their practice? Are we providing information in ways that is immediately useful to educators who are strapped for time and juggling lots of demands? Are we helping principals and teachers have more productive coaching and mentoring conversations?

It is no longer acceptable from a moral or business perspective to build technology and optimize user experience for centralized decision-makers alone. EdTech companies must build for multiple stakeholders, including teachers and students.

Keep in touch with Panorama Education and the latest research and commentary from the Panorama team by following us on Twitter @PanoramaEd.


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