My time spent over the last several years teaching in higher ed and providing professional, faculty development, and educational technology strategy for a content provider - you know ... we called them publishing companies before the digital evolution - uniquely positions me to view sales from both sides of the desk.
Educators want what will impact learning, and sales force members are ready and willing to provide just that. However, if a professor has been teaching a certain way for decades or if even for only a few short years, change can be uncomfortable.
This post is prompted by a Fall 2015 conversation with an edtech sales professional. I shared these three ideas with her to which she repeatedly responded with a contemplative "Interesting ...." Let's see if you have a similar reaction.
1. The "Students use it, so you should, too!" pitch is ineffective.
This approach suggests to an educator what he/she currently does is not working or his/her efforts to education today's student are futile. No one wants to hear that! Imagine your response if someone told you you should engage in one activity or another because others are already doing so. REALLY?! On the other hand, if one told you the power you could have, the impact you could create, the change you could effect with that activity, then you might reconsider. Rather than identify a tech tool then try to force-fit it into the educator's world, find out the educator's pain point, then identify a tech tool that speaks to it. This places the educator in the position of being a forward-thinking leader who used technology to solve a problem as opposed to a blind follower.
2. When the microwave was invented, did we all stop cooking on stoves?
Yes, technology is the fuel that makes us go faster, work more efficiently, cover wider ground. Should we force everyone to abandon tools of yesterday for the new, bright, and shiny invention of today? An immediate all-or-nothing/everything-must-be digital approach may not work for all educators; and while it may be inconvenient and more costly to oblige an educator who insists on still owning a hardcover copy of the book even after you've artfully sold him/her on digital, know your efforts were not in vain. The fact he/she is open to the idea technology for use by students suggests ... well ... he/she is open to the idea of technology! In due time, you can move him/her, too.
3. You would not put someone who's afraid of driving behind the wheel of a Ferrari.
Trying new ideas - like edtech - can be scary or down-right terrifying! Scaffold educators with manageable steps. Perhaps start by the educator test (driving) the technology but in a discipline other than the one in which he/she teaches. Follow-up by asking how effective was his/her personal learning experience. Another idea is start with one of the educator's sections that adopts a tech tool, then bring other sections on board the next term.
(And I hasten to add that I can in no way take credit for this Ferrari analogy; a big "thank you" goes to my friend and successful publishing sales expert, Cheryl Stevens, who shared it with me. At the time, I immediately told her "Don't be surprised if you hear or see me use that somewhere. You've been warned!" Hey ... I'm a woman of my word!)
So what's your reaction? Interesting ... ? Thoughts ...?
And if you are an educator, let us know what else should be added to this list!