- As most universities do not develop technology tools on their own, how they manage the relationships they build with ed tech vendors is absolutely critical to their being able to get quality products effectively and efficiently, explains Fiona Hollands, Education Researcher at Teachers College, Columbia University in an article for EdSurge.
- In a survey of 45 ed tech decision makers, 80% of them said their primary source of information on technology products and services is vendors themselves, according to a May report from the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Columbia University. At the same time, 96% reported going toward colleagues, 67% turning toward professional associations, 53% toward consultants, and only 9% reporting seeking information from research or technical assistance centers.
- Though overwhelmingly educators rely on vendors themselves for information on options, Hollands finds that they they also often complain that vendors are only interested in selling products to them instead of offering an idea that can actually address pedagogical needs. This reality requires administrators to strategically build "trust-worthy" relationships with their vendors.
As the types of tools and products available grow, vendors often reach out to faculty members individually, which can offer some flexibility to instructors but also potentially lead to redundant purchasing of technology. Universities can take steps to streamline the purchasing process, while also making sure that tools that are purchased are actually necessary. Further, decision-makers can make it clear that they value transparency in their relationship with their vendors and don't want to be advertised fancy, but useless, services. They can also try to collaborate with companies in order to create a specific product that is tailored to the university's needs. Hollands offers advice toward vendors as well on how to build better ties with purchasers, as an effective edtech partnership is a two-way relationship.