Reason #3 That You Aren’t Selling Schools

Market Insight
Don’t miss this installment of our 5-part series. If you’re violating this point, you’re failing to close half those sales calls
By: 
LeiLani Cauthen

If you don’t get through the “noise” and frustration that school executives are running into, you won’t be helping them to gear up for the future using your technology.

I’ve taken all the information and surveys gathered from the many cities the Learning Counsel visited over the last year and I’m giving you the Top Five “Things” preventing schools and districts from adopting digital curriculum and content. The Five are:

1. Classrooms pedagogy professional development

2. Teacher device use training

3. Lack of adequate computing devices

4. Digital curriculum systems training

5. Instructional design/curriculum design professional development

This week, let’s address number three (3). This one is a real problem, and it’s more of a problem for hardware sales staff than software. It’s also the big budget issue—the hurdle (along with infrastructure) that’s considered the toughest by many school administrators.

ISSUE #3 – Lack of Adequate Computing Devices
This is an interesting consideration for educators to have. If there are inadequate devices for students there will be a persistent suspicion of “digital divide” where the can’t-haves are left behind. This is a valid concern, but not something that completely prohibits moving to more or all-digital curriculum.

One thing you can do to sell more digital curriculum in an environment where there are inadequate devices is make the appeal that it’s the learning that is derived from digital enhancement that creates achievement growth. It’s not the device – that’s just a tool. Teaching and learning may be handicapped by a lack of devices in a school or district, but their hands aren’t fully tied. Sharing and using devices even partially—with good digital curriculum, can so greatly change the learning achievement for students that it drives up urgency for devices. This can be done with student-owned devices (BYOD – Bring Your Own Device) to get the ball rolling, a low ratio of computers to students who take turns or work in groups, or a short time of day using devices off a cart wheeled from room to room.

The main point here is that the challenge of good quality digital curriculum or content collections causes some of the left-behinds to charge ahead because they are now in the virtual environment for learning that has made a difference for them. It’s worth the one, or the dozen students, who might otherwise never have made it to get the best stuff and use it, use it, use it.

In other words, one of the real problems of inadequate computing devices is not the inadequate computing devices. It is really the inadequate use of the ones that are there to take advantage of the really good digital curriculum out there. When inadequate devices are also accompanied by cheap or low-value digital curriculum—like teacher-created lessons that are little more than Google searches or visits to history sites—the case for more is a hard one to make and additionally cheapens the few devices that are already in the school.

So the question in selling is – have you (the prospect) paid attention to what you can do now with high-value digital curriculum to super-charge a ground swell of enthusiasm? Just take the gloves off with this pointed question, and then…

Form a Coalition
You have an interest in forming whatever coalition you can to get the schools in your area up-to-snuff with adequate devices. Get with fellow industry vendors as partners. Get a team. Call high, even to the Superintendent and Board and indicate you’d like to help with the “best stuff” in digital curriculum so they don’t have to keep buying paper based materials when they could be invigorating their students with digital moves, etc.

Help get some pressure going with stating points about what is happening nationally as well.

The truth is that we are approaching, as a nation, a saturation point—there is now, by statistics—a device in at least 70-75% of all K12 student’s hands for a significant portion of every school day. It could be in labs, for a few hours a day off carts, BYOD or some ratio like 1-1.

This statistic is not a myth, but a nation-on-the-move at a scale never before seen technically. And the next stop—digital learning resources. Or maybe that was the first stop and missed so far as a means of proving the point and so getting funding and agreement to get bunches more of devices. The Learning Counsel predicts that Issue #3 (lack of devices) is going the way of the dinosaur very soon, either through BYOD or school/district initiative.

This is a boom time in America. The education system transformation is upon us. Make sure those districts and schools have the tools and digital curriculum courses they need.

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