5 Tips for Running a Successful Pilot 

12 December 2023 | By viviedu

Embarking on a pilot for a new educational technology tool is an exciting but often challenging endeavor. In this blog post, we delve into real-world experiences shared by Ron Cone, Executive Director of Technology at Kennewick School District, and Dave Commander, Technology Support Specialist at Wall Township Public Schools, as they navigated the pilot phase with Vivi. Here are their top five tips for running a successful pilot.

1. Make sure your pilot is large enough to understand how it performs in your own environment.

Sure, everything looks good on paper, but how does it perform in your school environment? One thing that Ron Cone, Executive Director of Technology at Kennewick School District in Washington, ran into when piloting other tech tools was understanding the impact a device’s location in relation to other devices had on its performance. 

Ron shared that his district came close to purchasing a certain product for the entire district but ran into serious obstacles after deploying it throughout one entire school. The initial purchase was a failure because the product could not handle having so many devices in proximity. It was not until his team had installed one in each classroom, that the issue became apparent. The performance issue was their final obstacle, causing them to decide against a district-wide purchase and deployment.  

2. Determine whether the product aligns with your district and staffs’ goals.

While other products may be able to do the basic job, they may not align with and advance your broader objectives. According to Dave Commander, Technology Support Specialist at Wall Township Public Schools, when considering Vivi, the fact that it was built specifically for the education market, meant it simply understand his district’s challenges better than a general-purpose tool did.   

Dave explained that the education-specific focus of a Vivi allowed valuable conversations between technical teams and teaching staff. He commended Vivi for its ability to bridge the gap between technical functionalities and educational needs, particularly in providing features such as timers and polling that set it apart from solutions solely focused on streaming. He emphasized Vivi’s capacity to address the diverse requirements of both technical and teaching audiences as a notable advantage over other alternatives.

3. Start small and scale up.

When it comes to the actual organization of the pilot, Dave Commander, recommends starting small and scaling up the pilot to get the full picture. He started his pilot by deploying Vivi in the middle school where he is housed. He enlisted the support of a forward-thinking teacher who he knew would be willing to provide honest feedback. According to Dave,  

“I identified at least one teacher that was very forward thinking and very honest. I knew that she was going to give feedback, good or bad, more beyond it just works or it doesn’t work, and how it met her needs or her concerns.”

4. Build a complete test plan.

It is important to make a full list of things you want to test before the pilot gets started. Having a checklist and thoroughly testing the product in both small and large settings adds a layer of future-proofing and allows you to test beyond the basic functionality.  

Ron Cone did that and tested all aspects of Vivi during his evaluation period. One thing he was particularly focused on was the quality of video streaming. Unlike other products, Vivi’s video streaming performed exceptionally well, even when testing with multiple devices simultaneously. They encountered no issues such as choppy video or audio sync problems, which were common with other products. This reliability in video streaming was a key factor that set Vivi apart and contributed to the success of our tests. 

Knowing what you want to test also allows you to evaluate the responsiveness of the provider in addressing any performance issues before committing to a purchase. Understanding a provider’s ability to work with you to identify and resolve issues when they arise is vital for the success of any long-term relationship.

5. Be strategic about timing.

Timing is important when it comes to starting an your edtech pilot, so find the time that works best for you and your staff. When reflecting about the ideal time to start a pilot, both Ron Cone and Dave Commander found spring to be ideal. According to Dave,  

“The timing of the pilot was actually good [and] not just for our deadline. I found that when we did it, it was springtime. It was kind of a happy time of year, and people were not as overwhelmed as they would be in the beginning of a school year. It’s not quite at the end of the school year, so we still have full engagement. We got really good feedback in that time.” 

Listen to Ron echo this sentiment:

When evaluating any educational technology, piloting provides an excellent opportunity to understand how it will perform in the real world. Incorporating the above tips can help you run a successful pilot. To hear more about how to run a successful pilot and about Ron and Dave’s experience piloting Vivi, watch the full webinar. Additionally, check out the clips below for advice from Ron and Dave on running a Vivi successful Vivi pilot.

Interested in running your own Vivi pilot? Learn more about what’s involved.