I was recently invited to share information about Listenwise at a Lunch & Learn at a large district where we recently sold the premium version of our product. It was a rare PD day in the district and I knew I would be competing for teachers’ attendance. The district had bought a subscription to Listenwise Premium for social studies teachers, but was wasn’t able to require teachers to attend in-person training.
I set up my tasty lunch offering, put out a sign that promised compelling podcasts for students and welcomed teachers with our popular Public Radio Nerd pins. I knew that selling to a district is only part of the challenge. Once the purchase order arrives, it can be a long and complicated process to fully implement your ed-tech program.
As I shared in a previous blog post, now that our company has an increasing number of district customers, we’ve been thinking about how best to support districts for success.
For the past five years Listenwise has primarily sold its listening-skills-building platform to individual schools. In the past year, we saw more demand from districts, as our listening quiz allowed for more data tracking and proven results.
Now that we are supporting an increased number of district accounts, we are seeing first-hand how that affects implementation, ongoing support, and how we need to communicate in the district. Here are four things we’ve learned:
1. Districts need more robust services and curriculum mapping.
District require a deeper level of implementation support than we offered in the past. In a school sale, we typically work with a “Teacher Captain” as the liaison for the subscription to organize the web on-boarding. At the district level, the subscription is often implemented across schools and in some cases the schools and teachers haven’t heard of Listenwise until they are told by the district that they have a subscription.
2. Work with the district to create an implementation strategy.
I’d like to tell you we’ve hit on one approach that works for every district. But as you might imagine, every district is different in how it selects and rolls out ed-tech products. In one district, the bilingual coordinator is working across schools to facilitate training. In another district, we’ve done in-person training for teachers at several schools and have designated Listenwise Teacher Captains at each school.
3. More people need support and information in a district implementation.
There are just more people involved in a district implementation versus a school implementation. And those people who need support and information are often ed-tech leaders and IT personnel. Our platform is easy to use and web-based with very little time to get up and running. But at a district level, IT is more involved and interested in the single sign-on options, security and privacy.
4. Professional development is more important at the district level.
The district has dedicated funds for PD that can be used to support deeper training on ed-tech products. Customized workshops that include hands-on interactivity, followed by a later session to facilitate sharing, broadening of content, and increasing discoverability are important.
All of that brings me back to the Lunch & Learn. Despite the competition for teachers at the PD day, podcasts were a huge draw. While we are still working on getting teachers to use Listenwise consistently, I believe we’ve done what’s most important in supporting a district implementation.