Great Tech-pectations: Vendors and Technologists This Session Is for You

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

This nonjudgmental, candid session will include the best and worst of the vendor-technologist relationship. In this session technologists and vendors will engage in a conversation around expectations with the goal to gain greater mutual understanding. This highly participatory session will be a reverse panel for both vendors and technologists.

Presenters

Adam Baldry is an Instructional Technologist at Pima Community College. He holds an MA in East Asian Studies and is currently a Higher Education graduate student at the University of Arizona. Adam uses his 10+ years of in-person and online teaching experience to inform his approach to EdTech management and innovation. Taking a human-centered design thinking approach to EdTech implementation, Adam enjoys working with others to apply innovative tech solutions to pedagogical stumbling blocks. As a trained humanist, Asianist, technologist and teacher, he seeks to incorporate simplicity, humanity and mindfulness into his work.
Brad Butler serves as an Instructional Technologist - Tech Innovation and Pilots for Digital Learning. For the first 13 years of his career, Brad served as a high school teacher in Tucson covering the content areas of World History, United States History, Geography, and American Government. While teaching, he served as the point person for both staff and students when it came to technology and aided in many educational technology initiatives in his teaching career. Before joining the Digital Learning team, Brad worked as the Course Design Specialist for the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona. He is an advocate for the positive change that education can have on people and loves how technology can improve educational opportunities for everyone. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and baking with his wife, trying to wear out their two Dachshund-mix rescue dogs, spinning, and playing board games.

Extended Abstract

The vendor-technologist relationship is a key aspect of supporting educational technologies at colleges and universities. It is a symbiotic relationship that mutually benefits both parties as they work together to provide essential technologies and services to students, faculty, and staff. 

Vendors rely on technologists to support and promote their tech in a multitude of ways including training faculty, troubleshooting technical issues, testing new features, managing institutional adoption, and so much more. On the other hand, technologists rely on vendors to be responsive, adaptive, and communicative tech providers that truly understand all of their end users’ needs for accessibility, user experience, educational app gaps, and so on.

The hosts of this Discussion, Not Presentation session are award-winning instructional technologists that know the importance of good vendor relationships. They’ve seen the advantages that come with some vendors and the detriments that come with others. With our students’ welfare, education, and even their mental health on the line, we must work toward greater mutual understanding and trust between technologists and vendors.

In the spirit of empathy and understanding, this session will allow technologists and vendors to explore their mutual expectations. We believe greater understanding will come from sitting down in a safe space together to have open, honest conversation around what we need from each other, what we appreciate, what we are concerned about, and how we can help each other.

To that end, this session will ask us to explore various aspects of the relationships between the technologists that support EdTech and the vendors creating and providing it. Since we only have a short 45 minutes to discuss this key topic, we will poll our audience to understand what they would like to prioritize. We will then proceed with a reverse panel style conversation that will explore some of the following questions that are designed to be mirrors of each other:

  • Questions For Vendors

    • What are your priorities for accessibility?

    • What are your priorities for security?

    • What do you expect from technologists once they’ve committed to your product?

    • What data do you prioritize for understanding usage?

    • How much time do you plan to dedicate to each partner?

    • How do you ensure proper pedagogical training of your employees/developers?

    • How do you ensure the proper pedagogical usage of your tech?

    • How do you cater to your clients’ institutional education level?

    • What are known knowledge gaps you are working to bridge?

    • How much advance notice do you provide clients prior to rolling out new features?

    • What feedback do you want from partners that test your technology?

    • How do you gather user data to understand instructor and student experience/satisfaction with your tool?

    • What are some red flags for you when working with an institution/partner?

    • What is your philosophy for customer service?

    • What is your UX philosophy?

  • Questions For Technologists

    • What are your priorities for accessibility?

    • What are your priorities for security?

    • What do you expect from vendors once you have committed to their product?

    • What data do you prioritize for understanding usage?

    • How much time do you expect vendors to dedicate to you?

    • What are your expectations for vendors' understanding of proper pedagogy?

    • Where do you find yourself making up for gaps in vendors’ understanding of your institutional needs/expectations?

    • What are your priorities for testing new features?

    • How much advance notice of new features do you expect?

    • How do you gather user data to understand instructor and student experience/satisfaction with your tool?

    • What are some red flags for you when working with a vendor?

    • What are your expectations for customer service?

    • What are your expectations for UX?

To preserve and continue this needed conversation, we will provide a shared Google Doc for both vendors and technologists. We hope the fruits of this session will be carried forward to facilitate lasting change as both vendors and technologists build greater mutual understanding. 

Last of all, to help encourage meaningful sharing, the presenters will come prepared to share their experiences, both good and bad, and learn of the experiences of others. The presenters and attendees will be expected to keep their examples anonymous. This means the names of vendors, their staff, technologists, institutions, and so forth should not be used. This will not be an opportunity to shame or complain. It is a much-needed opportunity to build greater trust and understanding.