Deciding what ed tech to buy: who ya gonna call?

A report hot off the press -- well, lukewarm, as it came out last week under an embargo -- is a report on the state of ICT or education technology, from the British Educational Suppliers Association.

There are lots of interesting things to mull over in the report, but one that has struck me and several other people is who schools take notice of when it comes to product recommendations.

For primary (elementary) schools, 44% said they go by the opinions of other teachers at their school, and 22% said they would follow the recommendations of their headteacher (principal). That all sounds a bit insular to me. What about groupthink?

Also, 22% went by teachers at other schools, while the views of academics appealed to just 12% of the teachers surveyed. I think I and other independents who review products must come into the 'None of the above' category favoured by a tenth of the teachers.

Except... But hang on a second, let's look at the picture for secondary (high) schools.

The figures here are:

Teachers in your school, 36%

Headteatcher, 12%

Teachers outside the school, 20%

Academics, 20%

None of the above, 10%.

So, looking at those numbers, rather than slaving over a hot desk reviewing stuff that teachers might find useful (see illustration), I'd be a lot better off loafing on the settee attempting the crossword.

The book reviewer's desk, by Terry Freedman

However, it's not as cut and dried as that. Many of the several thousand people who subscribe to my newsletter (Digital Education) are teachers, and I know for a fact that many of them use the information provided by me (and others like me) to inform their recommendations.

Without necessarily telling their colleagues where they found the information!

I don't blame them: I do the same sort of thing myself: doesn't everybody?

(So, clearly, the real picture here is that 98% of teachers indirectly get their recommendations from me.)

But being serious for a moment, I think this does raise the question: where do the recommending teachers get their information from? That is, what is the basis on which they are recommending stuff? Personal use? Reviews?

And why do their colleagues take any notice of them? A corollary of that question is: why do so few teachers go to the Department for Education (primary schools, 7%; secondary schools 4%) or to their local authorities (12%, 5%)?

In another section of the report, only 5% of primary schools and 4% of secondary schools wanted government guidance or approval over which ed tech products to use. Why such a small number?

Although the landscape changes over the years, I think it's worth exploring why this might be the case. Is it that schools are more used to being relatively independent now?