| by Michael Feldstein
One of the massive challenges facing colleges as they prepare for the return to school during COVID is procuring everything they need, from equipment to keep people safe, to educational software and services to keep students learning online. That’s why I’m delighted to announce that E&I Cooperative Services is joining the Empirical Educator Project as a sponsor and contributing their COVID-19 Recovery Solutions Navigator as a resilience network project.
You may not have heard of E&I, but if you work at a U.S. college or university, chances are very good that your institution has a relationship with the cooperative. E&I is the only member-owned, non-profit purchasing cooperative solely focused on serving the needs of education. They use the aggregate purchasing power of more than 5,000 member institutions to develop competitively solicited contracts that comply with generally accepted procurement standards, including those of state systems. E&I has been a member-owned organization since its founding in 1934, and membership is free.
We all know what a bottleneck the procurement process can be. It’s extra time (and costs) that a lot of colleges don’t have right now. E&I has been working with its members to map out their needs, create a list of solutions, and offer competitively-solicited or adoptable contracts as quickly as the process will allow. The E&I team has been working hard to get ahead of this part of the problem for you, both by anticipating solutions you may need and negotiating contract terms so you don’t have to. The COVID-19 Recovery Solutions Navigator is itself a contribution to the resilience network, since it provides a map of potential needs that will help accelerate institutions’ internal planning conversations. The contract negotiation that E&I handles is priceless.
As part of their participation in EEP, E&I has engaged e-Literate to advise them on potential areas of need in teaching and learning and, more broadly, student success. Because procurement can only proceed so quickly and still pass muster with compliance requirements, there will likely be several waves of these RFP solicitations. The first, which focuses on online learning program consulting and faculty training, can be found here.
This is the heart of it, though:
E&I’s intent of this Request for Proposal is to solicit qualified, experienced, financially sound, and responsible firms to provide Online Learning Program Consulting and Faculty Training as required by members. The Respondent(s) must have the expertise and experience with providing faculty training for online course development & pedagogical design. This may include the building of new or expansion of online programs for higher education institutions and K-12 school districts. Additionally, E&I is soliciting qualified, experienced, financially sound, and responsible firms to provide consulting for institutional and/or organizational change management for online learning programs.
Proposals are due by 1:00 PM ET on Thursday July 23, 2020, so if you are a vendor that wants to be considered in this process (or work with a vendor that you think should submit a proposal), now is the time to apply.
More support for COVID and empirical education is coming
As I mentioned earlier, this is the first teaching and learning-related solicitation. E&I will be conducting at least one more teaching and learning-related COVID RFPs in areas that are yet to be determined. Suggestions are welcomed.
E&I has also signed an MOU with EEP to collaborate on the creation and execution of procurement processes that incorporate research and evidence of impact directly into the procurement process. While we are focused on the urgent needs of the COVID crisis for now, we also intend to make it easier for institutions to evaluate and procure educational products and services through a process that takes evidence of educational impact into account.
Register for the e-Literate LIVE! event on Thursday, July 23rd from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM ET with E&I leadership to talk with them about their #resiliencenetwork EEP contribution and provide input for the next steps in the project.