Lessons in Edtech procurement
Naimish Gohil, CEO and Founder of Satchel, says guidelines in Edtech procurement are needed to tackle waste and missed opportunities
Technology in schools has come a long way in the last ten years, however despite this, Edtech remains a relatively new concept. Technology is constantly developing and when it’s paired with a sector such as education, whose policies and standards are also subject to change, a lot of learning curves can happen. As with any mistake, we learn from them in this sector and I expect we will continue to do this for years to come, especially with the influx of new tech such as VR, AI and robotics.
Of all the lessons I’ve learned from my time as both a teacher and CEO of Satchel, the one I’ve found to be most valuable and the key to success for so many software products is that, despite technologies having the power to provide innovative solutions to age-old problems and impressive results academically and professionally, tech is not a miracle worker on its own.
Simply purchasing a licence or product does not lead to school improvements – teachers need training on the software, upkeep needs to remain consistent and the software has to be solving an issue you want to address in your school – otherwise it’s not going to be effective.
Some schools and businesses have learned this the hard way and others have discovered this on their Edtech journey over the past few years. For me, I figured this out when working as a teacher – there was technology available to us but it wasn’t being used and no one knew why.
What I discovered was that it was purchased years ago, promising the world, but it wasn’t rolled out properly, there was no training, no support and because of this, it became stagnant. This is why, when I started creating my business, I made certain support and training were at the core of what we offered. This was to ensure that schools would be able to use our software to its full potential and get the results they wanted.
However, despite this being the biggest lesson I have learned, there are still those who aren’t clued up on how to avoid these sorts of pitfalls. This, unfortunately, comes down to a bigger problem surrounding the lack of information available on Edtech procurement.
Despite the huge rise in Edtech and the rate at which the market is growing both in the UK and globally, what’s most surprising to me is the complete lack of guidelines on procurement for schools. The limited information on this topic has cost a lot of money because they haven’t been provided with the information they need to make informed decisions, in what is otherwise a relatively new sector.
The government should be championing the use of software in schools, especially those that help tackle the teaching crisis through reducing stress and workload. They need to play a more pivotal role in educating teachers on Edtech procurement. In-depth literature should be provided on what schools should consider when purchasing new technology, and the effort such processes take. Too many schools aren’t aware of the time and effort implementing software takes, but also, the extent of the reward they’ll get when it’s done right.
We are lucky in the fact that outside of the government there are those who are doing their bit to ensure schools are equipped with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions. One of these is the trade body BESA, who not only quality assure education suppliers but also champion the use of technology in schools. Having a trusted trade body like this means we can alleviate some of the pressures they face when sourcing new technology.
We’re at a very exciting point in the industry. We’ve seen ideas turn into realities and the technology and intelligence that’s available to us, is only going to further transform the sector. The government has taken steps to raise the profile of Edtech and promote the use of technologies in schools, but there is still more to be done, and providing procurement guidelines is the logical place to start.