Reasons You Aren’t Selling Schools

Market Insight
Reason Number 4 — And it’s Still Not the “no money” Excuse
LeiLani Cauthen

Last week we spoke about reason number five you aren’t selling schools —Instructional design/curriculum design professional development. You see, a huge number of districts and schools consider building their own digital resources. And of course they do. If you missed my last week’s installment take a look.

But that was last week, so let’s move on.

Like I’ve mentioned, the Learning Counsel has a unique insight into the education space and what Superintendents, Curriculum Specialists and Academic Officers are thinking and doing. In the last 14 months I’ve visited 24 cities with our Digital Curriculum Strategy Discussion Meetings.

During these discussions we hear directly from leadership on what they are trying to accomplish, where they stand on digital transformation and what their budget issues are. And guess what, none of the top five reasons below—concerning adoption of digital curriculum and content—had to do with money. Now, maybe they thought money was their problem. But further inspection found it to be one or all of the top five issues listed below.

This may not be what they are telling you as a sales consultant, right?

The truth is, this nearly trillion-dollar industry has bigger problems preventing its transition to digital. Here is the list. But read on, you’re not just getting the list of reasons in this article. Each week I’m taking you through the data behind each issue and how you can overcome it!

Top 5 Issues Preventing Adoption of Digital Curriculum and Content:

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 focus on issue number FOUR.

ISSUE #4 – Digital Curriculum Systems Training

What this issue means is that districts or schools have typically put in a new system as a silver-bullet “solution” to the wide world of digital resources. They’ve put in place a Learning Management System, typically without a whole lot of teacher input or piloting. They then roll this out as a fantastic solution that many in the system don’t understand or much less actually use for the first year.

A great amount of frustration and struggle ensues and heated words are exchanged. There are calls for “training”—and more—by teachers. This is provided and occasionally the teachers do show up and learn how to at least log in. They want to know why all their old textbooks and workbooks are not already pre-loaded as their first question. When they learn this is a brave new transformational world, there is much gnashing of teeth and making-of-fists.

About a year later there are a handful of uploaded lessons and some actual use by teachers. Typically this is when the IT Director first calls the moment a success, and thereafter generally neglects more training.

This is a mistake because the real life-changing results of a major system are only going to be realized when a majority of users are uber-users. They are sharing, uploading, planning, distributing, socializing, cross-tabbing and so much more that the system is now part of the teaching and learning. It’s not a forced venue stop for administration of the classroom that everyone begrudgingly barely acknowledges.

If you’re a systems salesperson, never stop the training tid-bits coming.

If you’re selling content-that-works-with-the-major-system, you still have to do the simple thing of show-and-tell about it. This also is a never-ending effort because you really are never done selling it to get it used and modifying it to ensure appreciation in its up-to-date-ness. And of course you have to consider that there are always new teachers being hired, so your relationship is often extending far into the future until a school or district has established—possibly with your help—an internal technology and PD department.

To sell more content, or more storage hardware or networks or anything that sits beside or in a major system, your stuff is still sold on its own merits to make the initial investment in the major system worthwhile.

That’s a closing line – use it.

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