Education Equipment Vendors, Beware

Entering the field of education later in life, I see things from a perspective that career educators might miss. Some things that may seem normal in a day’s work are questionable to me. One of those is broken equipment. For example, yesterday I had to print out a few pages at my community college, and, as usual, the printer was flashing undecipherable messages. It wasn’t until I opened all of the drawers and the top a few times that I was able to eek out a few pages. (In general, I have eliminated copying anything for my classes; this was an administrative form.) Getting almost anything done with almost every piece of equipment in a school setting usually entails wishing, frustration, and finally, avoiding using the equipment altogether.

This status-quo is unacceptable in industry, where vendors were competitive, if not cut-throat. If a Xerox copier didn’t work, we’d get an HP, and it would arrive the same day. The point is, the machine had to work, or it was out of there.

Broken equipment is one of the most frustrating aspects of teaching. Service repair men (including for software systems) are never around, although most equipment comes with support. (If not, it’s a rip-off.) Additionally, people who use the equipment should not have to go through needless bureaucratic procedures to contact the vendor. What is the benefit of anyone having to fill out a multitude of forms to make a machine work? Each and every person who uses the equipment should have immediate and direct access to the vendor, no holes barred.

Education must change its expectations of equipment providers. The current approach clearly holds us back enormously. It is unacceptable to hold teachers and students to a high standard, and allow those who supposedly provide services off the hook. Please, education, demand that your equipment vendors perform, or get rid of them.

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