Sunday 26 March 2017

Education: Salespersons, Seminar providers and Trainers

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It’s been a little while since I’ve done an article.  Not much is happening in education other than massive budget cuts which may or may not impact your School.
So let’s get started on salesperson, seminar sellers, course advertisers and trainers.

Remember every single one of them has one thing in common: Earning a living.
This means above all else their priority is not you or your school, this makes them a tad bit dangerous and also unlike staff working at your school their priority certainly is not your students.

I’ve several times lost the will to live regarding these people trying to sell something:
  • ·         Cloud systems (even though they are free)
  • ·         Networking (even though most schools wouldn’t need anything else)
  • ·         Support (most support companies are not good for value)
  • ·         Training sessions (they will tell you their way is the best way)
  • ·         Seminars (likewise for trainers)

I get an average of 15 people a week phoning me up to tell me they have something to offer me.  They’ve often used underhand tactics to get through reception:
  • ·         We’ve done business before (about 10 years ago)
  • ·         Free printer (no joke……….             if we spend £5000)
  • ·         We can save lots of money (one person told me over a million)

The sad truth is again – they are there to make a buck.  To tell you their way, their systems and their product is the best on the market.  They can fix your problems.  They also tend to lack real experience of dealing with technology on the day to day business.  I’ve worked with many of them and I've educated a few regarding IT – because they really don’t know it all.  Many of them will even have home devices and expect them to be the same as a network domain.  The major difference between work and home, if it doesn’t work at home it tends to 'not matter'.  At work it must be available 24/7.
I’ve covered some music teachers, ex IT support people (first line) and the techno lovers in previous articles.  They tend to be the same:
  • ·         They hate not getting their way
  • ·         Think they know best
  • ·         Never take responsibility
  • ·         There’s always something the IT Technician can do to solve the problem

And they certainly hate IT Support, because they know we're a threat to them.  A threat to their income and earnings.  They know we think about the whole big picture, the change for staff/students, the costs and that technology is not always fixable nor looked after.

Now this may not be a nice thing to say but regarding technology only IT specialists are the ones you should always listen to.  There’s a reason why Schools tend to have failing IT systems and that is usually the fault of IT and SLT.
With IT, they are either clued up or not, set in their ways or not.   SLT need to support them with budget and time.  If you don’t have SLT supporting IT you will have a failing IT system.  If you have IT who are clueless (usually fresh ex-students) don’t complain if you have a failing IT system.
So, what to do about those pesky people after your money:
  • ·         Take what they say with a pinch of salt
  • ·         If they claim to offer the magic fix – don’t believe them
  • ·         If they say it will save you a lot of money – ignore them
  • ·         Trial, Test and Trial – this is words they claim you don’t need to do

As a result of budgets being squeezed a lot of Schools are now reverting back to the old ways of doing things.  Low cost IT with Windows computers, projectors and using “free” systems when available.  Not fancy pretty little tablets, laptops or high cost Apple.

There’s absolutely no real reason in today’s educational environment you should have an Apple device.  If someone has told you they are “better” they lied.  99% of what you do with an iPad you can do on an Android tablet but costing a lot less.  When you look at Macs and MacBook’s, again there is professional software that works on Windows computers that do the same job.  Some people will again claim “Apple is better” – more lies.

Also remember though that free doesn’t always mean better.  Office 365 Live which provides the worlds best productivity programs in Word etc.  The free version requires an internet connection in Education.  The paid for one – allows local installations with no broadband.  The free Open Office, Google Docs and Libre are incredibly poor in many ways.  The best one is Open Office.
So next time you hear “This is the way” from Trainers, Salespersons and Seminar providers remember they are there to make a buck.  

They don’t care if you are struggling with budgets and they certainly won’t worry about your students.

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