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Bett 2017: 10 Strategic Questions
If you are in a position to spend money after Bett, or to advise someone like a senior leader on how to spend money, a strategic approach is the best. It's very easy to come away from Bett feeling quite excited about the possibilities afforded by, well, everything you've seen. But you won't be able to afford everything, and even if you could, getting the whole lot may still not be a good idea. Here are a few pertinent questions to consider for each product you are considering:
- How would this enable us to meet our aims and objectives for ICT, Computing or education technology?
- How does it fit into the school's strategic aims and objectives?
- Another way of thinking about question 2 is: does the way this product work reflect the ethos of the school? For example, if the product requires pupils to work on an interactive surface at the front of the classroom, but the school has a strict stay-in-your-seats policy, then the product won't be right for you. Equally, if your school has a 'guide-on-the-side' policy, then a product that places the teacher squarely at the front of the classroom, the product will be wrong in your situation.
- What are the management implications of the product. For example, will pupils need yet another login, or can the product be integrated into the school's existing ecosphere?
- What are the technical maintenance implications of the product? Will your technicians or technical support service be able to deal with problems when they arise?
- Is the product a finished solution, or a halfway house? To put it another way, might it be worth waiting for a year when hopefully the final version will be ready, or it contains more content, or functionality?
- Will the product work, and be manageable with, other products you have or intend to buy? A corollary of this question is: when something goes wrong, how can you avoid the situation in which each company says it's another company's fault?
- Is the product sustainable? A subscription-based product will need to be renewed next year. Can you guarantee that the funds will be available?
- If the answer to question 8 is 'no', what contingency plans do you have to deal with the sudden loss of access to the product?
- Finally, does the company have any school reference sites, or pilot study schools, that you can visit before coming to a decision?
You may find my book useful: Education Conferences: Teachers' Guide to Getting the Most out of Education Conferences. Amongst other things it looks at what to do after conferences such as Bett. That link takes you to your country's Amazon Kindle store.