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Bluum Launches Service to Advise Schools on New Tech

Noticing that school districts often need guidance in implementing new technology, an ed-tech company has created a strategic planning advisory service to assess a school's needs and direct them to the appropriate tech.

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Bluum's new Strategic Planning Advisory Service helps schools make informed choices on technology purchases.
Courtesy: Bluum
With the recent pandemic and subsequent federal spending prompting an influx of new digital platforms and technology tools for teachers, the need for guidance on what and how to purchase has grown as well. In California last year, the state Senate passed a bill to create a statewide program to assess needs and train teachers on technology. Now, an Arizona-based company that primarily focuses on the resale of ed-tech tools to schools has decided to launch a strategic planning advisory service to help school districts strategize a plan for tech rollout.

According to a news release from Bluum, the new service is a three-phase process in which the company's technology and education experts help school districts assess where there is a need for ed tech and how they should implement it into their schools. The first step is about collecting data to learn a district’s strengths and weaknesses. The second phase goes over the data to identify which practices work while unearthing opportunities for improvement. The final step is to recommend technologies to implement into their schools within their budgetary parameters for the next several years.

Bluum Vice President of Education Services Emily Cook said the company piloted its Strategic Planning Advisory Service for eight months or so before officially launching it this month. She said when the pandemic hit, the company noticed a disconnect between teachers and technology, and it found a need for help when it came to teachers utilizing their budgets to purchase the right tools for their schools.

“We felt that we really want to be there in the beginning to help bring whatever expertise we can to our educational partners, to just make sure that we're providing that advisory service that can really help with those long-term strategic planning decisions at the site and district level,” Cook told Government Technology.

Bluum's news release said that the launch of the advisory service, designed for K-12, comes after months of educator research with the goal of creating innovative schools, based on their specific needs and shaped around their existing learning environment. The hope is to help districts maximize the return on their ed-tech investments, as well as on their instruction through professional development, to ensure improvements in student outcomes. Cook, who leads a team of more than 10 people that put the service together, said Bluum and its experts take school districts through the technology acquisition process start to finish, noting that it is more like a spiral approach that starts back up where the previous cycle ended, ensuring the district keeps trending forward.

Bluum CEO Erez Pikar said that, although the intent is for it to be a paid service, the company plans to provide the service at no charge to existing customers because he believes the guidance before and after the purchase of new technology is of the utmost importance. This approach, Pikar believes, is something that none of Bluum’s competitors are doing, though he wishes they would join the trend, even if it means competition. He said the company has worked with roughly 3,000 districts throughout the U.S.

“I hope that other vendors will see the example of what we're doing right now and do the same thing ... It would be a blessing for the school districts (because) I believe that the long-term reality of providing technology to school districts means that vendors will have to become a lot more engaged," Pikar said. “It’s been the natural last step in moving from being just a technology provider ... to being a true partner for school districts and making sure they can actually achieve some goals with learning outcomes, which is obviously desperately needed.”

East Williston Union Free School District (WUFSD) in New York is one of the early adopters of the service provided by Bluum. EWUFSD Director of Technology, Innovation and Information Services Ed Kemnitzer said that surveys conducted by the Bluum service revealed a number of opportunities they weren’t aware they needed, as well as some he expected. The outside perspective helped him and his tech committee plan a technology environment for their schools for the next half-decade. Kemnitzer said of the four goals in New York's technology plan, two are based off of data collected in the Bluum report that weren’t on their radar.

“It's something that I think districts all should jump on,” Kemnitzer said, adding that districts that need to fight for every dollar in their budget could benefit from the service. “There are many districts on Long Island that have to prove to their board, or they have to prove to the superintendent, that (tech is) needed to get the money allocated. So I think this would help them.”

Bluum said in its release that a free 30-minute consultation, including an introduction to a digital responsiveness framework and indicators to success, will be made available to schools.
Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. He has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional soccer over his more than 15-year reporting career. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.