Last week I attended a webinar that was run by ISC Research in which they were shedding light on the current situation with private schools around the world. It was a very fascinating webinar. The webinar discussion got me thinking back to conversations I have been having with clients who were finding it hard to make sales to international schools at the moment. The webinar pointed out the many changes that have been brought about by the current COVID-19 global pandemic. But it was not all bad news, as it was noted that there was considerable growth in the education technology sector. However, not all education technology companies were benefiting from this remarkable growth opportunity. This got me thinking. Why? Why are some companies enjoying the spoils while others are on the brink of collapse?
The conclusion I came to is that schools, in a bid to make smart financial decisions and reserve cash, are mostly focusing on buying resources that are essential to teaching and learning and the overall running of the school. They are no longer buying ‘nice to have’ resources and are only investing in ‘ need to have’ resources. How do you know if your resource falls into the ‘need to have’ category? Below I outline what is considered a ‘need to have’ resource for schools at this time. It is then up to you to decide whether or not your resource falls into this category.
Hybrid, Distance and In-person Learning
How Agile is Your Resource?
With the current situation being as fluid as it is, schools are operating several models of teaching and learning, all at the same time. The threat of more lockdowns is ever-looming, therefore if your resource is not as agile as the current uncertain situation warrants, then I am afraid it may not be a necessity for schools. Schools are looking for resources that students can use in school, at home or both. This means that it should be web-based, easy to use and come with enough training and support to get the entire school, parents and students onboarded in the shortest possible time.
Does your Resource Offer Personalised Student Progression?
Does your resource allow students to learn at their own pace? With a limited amount of time available for one on one instructions, students should be able to progress at their own pace and teachers should not have to be constantly setting work or trying to keep up with marking or feedback. So if your resource provides students with work that challenges them without being too difficult and it provides assessment and real-time feedback then you should have no problem selling this to schools.
How Effective is your Resource with Online Assessment?
How well does your resource handle online assessment? One of the biggest challenges currently with online, hybrid and distance learning is assessment. Nearly every school is wanting to make sure that students are being properly assessed, whether they are learning at home or they are in school. Can your resource do that?
Is your Resource Competitively Priced?
Another very important aspect is that of cost. Nearly every school is looking to cut costs. Ensuring that the resource that you are offering is priced correctly is key to whether or not a school will consider it. At the start of this pandemic, many Education technology companies offered free access to their platforms and resources in a bid to woo the schools into becoming paying customers. Many schools willingly took advantage of the free offers only to walk away at the end of the trial period. The reasons for them walking away vary, but often, it came down to price. Can they find a similar resource for less?
Are you Able to Demonstrate the Value of your Resource?
Finally, if you want to know if your resource is in the ‘ need to have’ category, you should be able to demonstrate convincingly how it helps to improve students progress and attainment. The fact is, everything done in the school should be with this aim in mind. Not being able to demonstrate this, puts your resource firmly in the ‘ nice to have’ category. It may be fun, students may make a little progress etc. but when it comes down to real hard evidence of raising students’ attainment, does your resource move the needle?
I strongly believe that any resource which focusses on safeguarding, and is effective in helping to safeguard the wellbeing of students and indeed staff during this period, falls into the ‘need to have’ category. COVID-19 has brought to the fore many issues around safeguarding and schools are looking for resources to help them tackle the myriad of problems that are currently arising. Whether it is around safeguarding online or providing training for staff, these resources are definitely needed by many schools. If you really want to win big, provide a ‘need to have’ resource that helps with safeguarding students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
In order to remain open, schools must follow very strict guidelines around hygiene, it, therefore, goes without saying that any resource which helps to keep the school clean and hygienic for all, is a ‘need to have’ resource. Do you have a resource that would help keep the school more cost-effective and eco-friendly? Then I am sure many schools would like to hear from you. A lot of the funds which have been diverted from other budgets, in the school, are being spent on keeping the school hygienically clean and safe. So it is your time to clean up (pun intended).
The current education climate is dynamic, and being able to provide timely solutions to the problems that are arising in schools is a sure way to stay in the ‘ need to have’ category. If you have read this and have a different perspective or you have thought of something else that should have been added to this article, then please comment below or get in touch with me on Linkedin here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leisagrace/ or on twitter here: https://twitter.com/leisagrace.
If you are a resource or service provider and you would like to learn more about how to reach school leaders and educators in the Middle East, then get in touch with me at editor at teach uae.com.
Thanks for reading!
Leisa Grace Wilson