In partnership with IDEO, a leading international design and innovation firm, Digital Promise developed “Evolving Ed-Tech Procurement in School Districts,” an exploration of ideas to make learning technology procurement more modern, efficient, and attuned to demand.

The report is the latest step in Digital Promise’s ongoing efforts to create efficiencies and smart demand in education technology, and continue IDEO’s unique application of empathy and design thinking to the public and private sectors. Together, IDEO and Digital Promise convened a wide range of stakeholders to devise potential solutions for the oft-lamented challenges in selling and purchasing education technology.

To prepare the report, IDEO interviewed 34 individuals, explored existing education resources, and sought inspirational best practices to understand the barriers and potential solutions in the learning technology space. IDEO presented its renowned “design thinking” method at a meeting of our League of Innovative Schools and facilitated a workshop for district leaders, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, and education experts focused on the key barriers, brainstorming solutions, and developing concepts to test and iterate at the district level. 

Procurement can be a tricky, unsexy topic. Many of the testimonials you will see from district leaders and technology vendors bemoan the process as muddled, inefficient, and even frightening. The workshop began with a healthy skepticism that these longstanding processes in education could be upended. “Innovation is scary,” we heard.

But as a result of this work our work with IDEO, we believe procurement can be a more human-centered process that spurs mutually beneficial relationships between schools, practitioners, and entrepreneurs.

Among other things we asked, “How might my procurement office connect with teachers and administrators to enable better planning?” or “How might my district help procurement officers better understand the true value (in terms of price, quality, and need) of their purchases?”

Over the course of the workshop we saw the skepticism subside, as participants created five concepts that could help any district improve its technology purchasing and foster a more efficient market. Digital Promise is exploring ways to apply these concepts in League of Innovative Schools districts and the report includes guidelines for any district to rethink its procurement. The concepts include:

  • Simplifying Procurement
  • Ed-Tech Incubator
  • Open Procurement
  • 7 Steps to Creative Financing
  • Better Planning, Better Process

Get ideas for improving ed-tech purchasing Download the IDEO Report