Eduporium Weekly | 5 Ways we Create Lasting Partnerships with Schools

  • Posted on: August 5, 2017 - 8:17am
  • By: alarmand

At Eduporium, we like to think of ourselves as more than just an online store, one-stop shop, and the place teachers go to find whatever EdTech they need. When we work with schools, educators, districts, libraries, or makerspaces, we become their partners in unlocking an exceptional education for their students. To us, being partners means that we’ll always help schools learn what’s best for their students and develop a plan to achieve those goals - not try to sell them the most expensive tools out there. See how we can partner with your school, library, or makerspace to help empower your students with technology.


Lending Library


Our school partnerships tend to begin with a simple conversation at a conference, event, or just with an unidentified educator in an elevator. From there, we learn what they are trying to accomplish and provide free consultation on the best ways for them to achieve their goals. We also like saving our partners as much money as possible but still help them deliver the instruction their students need and one of the ways we do that is through our Lending Library. We know that sometimes teachers need to see an EdTech product in action before they commit to purchasing a whole classroom worth of kits. So, we let them rent stuff out so that they’re able to get a feel for its effectiveness without spending a lot of money.


Seems like a good concept, right? You might be wondering exactly how a program like this would work. Well, let us explain. We developed our Lending Library with the intention of allowing teachers and students to try new technology without the fear of being stuck with something they discover doesn’t work well with their existing classroom tech, is not compatible with their devices, or that their students do not enjoy. The Lending Library’s purpose is to eliminate this fear not just in students, but in the teachers, too. Once they see children using a tech tool creatively, teachers get more comfortable and open up to further possibilities. Given the chance to try something without worrying about the penalties makes the situation much more doable and a whole lot less stressful for teachers.


The way we’ve designed it is that the Lending Library works just like a regular library. We have a rental system in place and educators can “check out” tech products for as long as they need them. There is a 3-day minimum rental and they pay a daily fee (on average between $8-12 per day) to try the products. And, the best part for teachers is that if they decide to make a purchase after their rental period is up, we’ll reduce the cost of the product by crediting the rental fees they’ve already paid! Our Lending Library really is a win-win for teachers. They get the chance to try a product, save on spending the amount they’d have to pay to buy it, and then only have to pay the difference if they end up really liking it. To give it a try, click here to visit our Lending Library page - we know you’ll love it!


Grant Assistance


Trust us, we know educators these days are completely strapped for cash. We also know they’re doing whatever they can to obtain the teaching tools they need to give their students a true 21st century education. As unfortunate as it is, this often means they’re spending their own money on technology and other school supplies for their classroom. Why every single teacher doesn’t apply for grants is somewhat of a mystery. Maybe they think technology doesn’t have a place in their classroom or perhaps they assume their chances of being selected are much too slim to bother giving it a try. Both of these assumptions are wrong and we can even help increase the chances a teacher gets selected and receives some grant money.


For teachers looking to maximize the dollars they have for technology, we can help them in two different ways. The first of the two is our quarterly EdTech grant program, which all educators are eligible to apply for. We award four technology grants - one per quarter - to eligible educators. Anyone associated with a school, makerspace, library, hackerspace, afterschool program, or museum can apply. To submit an application, those interested can go to this link and fill out the form. Just tell us how you will use the EdTech product(s) to demonstrate innovation and creativity in your school community, show your financial need, and provide a clear plan and budget for your upcoming months. Winners are able to select the product or products they want within $250 and can get them into their classrooms with a little help from their new partners (us!).


Besides this grant program, we also assist educators who are applying for other grants. Most of the time, grant applications require long responses to important questions that educators need to carefully think out before submitting. Since we know how a lot of this works, we can help during the writing process and provide feedback for responses that will resonate with those making the final decision. Essentially, we’ll provide a framework and help applicants fill in any spots they’re having trouble with. And, if they win, we’ll then be happy to serve as the source for purchasing whatever technologies they want to buy with their newly found funds. So, next time you’re thinking you need some help and some new EdTech, remember to check out Eduporium for a better chance of getting that grant!


Partnered Professional Development


You may have heard if you follow us on our various social media channels that we recently became certified to deliver professional development for teachers! What this means is that we can partner with school and district officials and put our own spin on teacher training when it comes to using technology in the classroom. Our certification is from the state of Massachusetts, but depending on your situation, we could likely work something out with you school or district in order to hold joint PD sessions. In this case, we could still bring our products and learning activities, but you’d be able to receive credits even if the sessions are being held outside the state!


Since we have become certified a few months back, we have led a couple of professional development initiatives, including one in western New York. They were set up in a 2-day format in which the first day was dedicated to teaching the teachers and the second was for showing area educators how to use certain STEM products. By ‘training the teachers,’ we mean that we were working with tech specialists who travel to different schools in that particular district and show teachers and students how to use these technologies correctly and effectively. It’s just as important for people in these roles to be very familiar with STEM products as it is for classroom teachers and we found that sessions like this (there were only five of them) are quite effective in laying the groundwork when it comes to new technology.


Our brand of professional development - to be blunt - is different from what most teachers are used to sitting through. In our sessions, they’re constantly up and active, moving around, and working together to get a feel of how their students would receive the tech products with which they’re working. We know that it’s important that teachers know how to lead a project when they’re introducing their students to it. That’s why our PD incorporates those kinds of unique opportunities for teachers to learn to design projects while simultaneously learning the ins and outs of various technology tools. And, of course, our sessions end with time for reflection so educators can map out how they felt about the instruction and compartmentalize what they learned. It’s a whole lot better than sitting at a desk for eight or nine straight hours.


Makerspace Design


Building, customizing, and launching a makerspace in your school or library can be a ton of fun. It can also be a little bit overwhelming if teachers don’t know where to start, what to include, what to exclude, and what to do to make it pop. That’s why, over the years, we’ve paid a lot of attention to what’s going on in school makerspaces and, more importantly, what works and what does not. In that time we’ve become informal experts on what it takes to create a successful makerspace in a K-12 school. In a lot of cases it’s as simple as “if you build it, they will come,” while, in other schools, students need some extra attraction to pull them in the door. We’ve got both ends of the spectrum covered for you.


In our minds, there are two fairly distinct kinds of makerspaces and they can be divided in one of two ways. The first is a makerspace that’s centered more on design and creativity - a space where students can upcycle and use common items to construct improved products. This kind of makerspace generally works best in the early grades - say K-4 - when children are just getting to learn what it’s like to be a maker and aren’t quite ready for the more powerful tools. Speaking of more powerful tools, the second type of makerspace is one that focuses more on manufacturing and getting students to use technology to actually make things. Whether it’s using a 3D printer, CNC machine, or anything in between, makerspaces are a great place for students to fabricate objects and transform them into just about anything. Now, you just have to decide which one’s for you!


Once you have an idea about what your goals are and know what kinds of technologies the students you’re working with will be capable of using, that’s where we come into play. We can recommend maker products for both the simple design and creation-based makerspaces as well as the manufacturing makerspaces. We carry a wide variety of simple to large-scale 3D printers, so, if you decide to go that route, you’ll definitely be able to find something that works for your students and your budget. Even if you don’t buy from us, we’re happy to have a conversation and recommend different makerspace tools and materials that would seem to be a good fit. So, if you see us out and about at a conference or event or want to get in touch sooner, don’t hesitate to come talk to us or give us a call!


Custom Bundles


As you have no doubt realized by now, we want to create an unforgettable education experience for teachers, students, and parents. We don’t do that by simply saying we want what’s best for today’s students. We make it happen by helping get educators the tools they need. Part of the added value they get when they partner with us is savings and another part is customization. We’ve combined the two of these and launched some signature EdTech bundles for teachers to use. Each bundle features four-to-six tech products and generally covers one specific STEM theme, like coding, engineering, circuitry, or robotics. The best part, though, is teachers get to tell us what they want in their bundle - it’s entirely customizable and a bit cheaper than purchasing a slew of individual products.


The way one teacher in one grade level views robotics and coding may be entirely different than the way a different teacher in a different school looks at it. One might want screens, devices, and interactive movements kids can code and the other might want their students to build the robot from scratch. There is nothing wrong with these different approaches and, in fact, we would encourage either of them! The beauty of it is that we can help both of these teachers find the products they need, introduce them to similar products to supplement those ideas, and get them to them at less of a cost. Essentially, these bundles are filled with EdTech that can actually help teachers and their students and we keep the things they don’t need because what’s the point of providing something they don’t want and driving up the cost?


When we’re putting these bundles together, we also consider what devices these products need in order to work. Some teachers might want tools that are compatible with Apple devices while others work with Chromebooks. This is usually the first thing we ask educators during the consultation phase of bundle design and then work to find compatible products. We include the devices in the bundles if teachers do not currently have what they need and provide them at a reduced cost as well. The final thing we do is create starter activities for each of the products in the bundle. So many teachers had told us that they were excited to get a new EdTech product into their classroom until they realized they didn’t know what to do with it (which usually happens once they’re already in the classroom). So, we create starter activities so teachers not only get compatible products and save money, but they’re ready to use it effectively right away! We hope to develop more partnerships this coming school year and look forward to meeting the needs of today’s innovative teachers! Please contact us if you would like to partner!


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