Wednesday, January 11, 2023

What's in a brand?

I'm going to use an analogy so that I don't specify specific brands of EdTech but hopefully the point of this blog post will make sense.

There are many brands that make similar products and while one brand is well known for good reason it's not the only brand available. We'll start with an analogy using crayons. When teachers send out supply lists, while some teachers will just specify crayons other teachers will specify Crayola crayons. Why is this?

Do the store brand crayons not come in multiple colors? So why do teachers constantly recommend Crayola? The answer is simple. They are known for their quality and consistency. They're stronger and don't break as easily so even though they cost the little more upfront at the end of the day they will last longer.

There are tech products that also follow this pattern. From 3D printers to interactive panels there is always that one brand that is slightly more expensive but has a greater reputation. There is a reason why when you go to purchase a 3D printer for a classroom you go to the EdTech specialists or the vendors that sell industrial quality printers and not to your local Amazon page to buy the cheapest 3D printer available. It will still work, but it won't work as well and it will probably break down faster meaning you will have to replace it sooner.

Personally, I own one of those $200 3D printers and I use it at home. But I am one person and I am only printing the occasional object. A classroom is printing multiple projects and often running a printer constantly for days at a time to complete the entire classes queue. My printer at home would never be able to keep up with the demand of a classroom so while it is much cheaper up front I would probably have to purchase multiple printers and then replace them often because they don't last. For those people who know me you will also know that I am very obvious with my likes and dislikes in the Ed tech world. I will talk with a school to see what their goals are and I have recommended products that I don't personally use because I know that they are probably better for that individuals needs.

You may now be thinking that there are multiple brands that make quality products so how do you choose? For this analogy I'm going to use cars. If all cars are required to have standard safety features, why would some people prefer one brand over the other? Sometimes it comes down to the aesthetics. Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as what features are standard and what features are costing extra. My last car was a Ford but I currently own a Toyota. I love my RAV4 but that doesn't mean my next car is going to be a Toyota again. When it's time to upgrade my vehicle I will compare the different brands, compare the features, and take a test drive. Only then will I be informed enough to make a good decision about which car is best for me.

This is another reason that I like to keep up with all the trends even though I'm no longer in the classroom. Because when I give somebody an opinion it's an educated opinion based on my personal research and experience. I may recommend one brand this year, but that doesn't mean it will always be the best brand.