Guest post by Al Kingsley, @AlKingsley_Edu
Wherever your school is, it’s likely that costs for everything are going up but your budget is not. Combine that with an energy crisis that’s making the coming winter look even more gloomy than usual and balancing the books in the months ahead is going to be extremely challenging.
Reviewing how our schools spend money is a priority if we are to make the most of what little we have. And a great place to start is by reviewing, improving, and maximizing school technology use.
Check your tech
Has your school done a technology audit lately? If not, this is a good time to take stock of what you have and see where your money is going. From 2020 onwards, many schools had to hastily adopt different software solutions and devices in response to Covid-19 lockdowns, often without a real chance to research whether these tools would be appropriate to meet their needs beyond the immediate requirement to ‘keep education going. As a result, schools may now find themselves burdened with subscriptions to multiple edtech or software platforms that they are no longer using fully, as well as having more devices around than they need.
A tech audit should detail your school’s assets and devices, current edtech, and other software, and clarify how they are being used. It may be that your needs have changed and you can now discontinue some of the subscriptions. On the other hand, schools using multiple edtech platforms may find one of them offers multiple solutions for what they want to do, which could make the budget go further.
Tighten up on your power use
Every school wants cheaper electricity bills and some solutions can help by tracking and analyzing the powered-on state of computers across the school. This provides accurate insight into energy consumption and pinpoints where energy wastage occurs, e.g., when devices are left on standby outside school hours. Schools can then set a schedule that automatically powers them off at the end of the day. If you have this functionality in any of your existing solutions, ensure that you use it. Every cent you save here will mount up over time.
Revise your digital strategy
Alongside your technology audit, take the opportunity to consult with all staff to ensure your digital strategy is still fit for purpose. A clear digital strategy should include a consistent vision of your school’s aims and identify short-term priorities for initial focus. It should also ensure your technology minimizes tasks and does not create extra work.
When researching and comparing different edtech offerings, it’s a good idea to ask suppliers for robust evidence to back up their marketing claims. This will help you to see whether their promised outcomes will be genuinely useful in your school’s unique environment. If you can find independent evaluations, then so much the better.
However, the most important consultations are with educators with hands-on experience. Twitter is a great source of information exchange and a simple question about others’ experiences is sure to provide you with different views to consider. Other educators’ knowledge of what works to save time and money in their school is the best evidence you can get, so it is well worth going the extra mile to talk to them.
Maximize what you do
Once your school has trimmed and tailored its edtech and IT assets, the next task should be to set out a clear plan for ongoing training for staff. The aim should be to take them beyond simply operating the technology – instead, elevating their proficiency level and allowing them to apply it creatively to their practice. This way, your school’s investment in IT is maximized; it is doing its job improving teaching and learning, rather than sitting around not being used.
Your technology audit can also help schools make the most of their existing IT assets. For example, in schools with enough devices, buying digital textbooks could be significantly cheaper than hard copies – and digital handouts instead of printed copies will save a small fortune.
In an ideal world, our students’ education should not be held to ransom by rising costs but the reality is that there are tough times are ahead. However, collaborating and sharing best practices with other educators in our schools and beyond costs very little and remains our greatest strength right now.
This blog has been adapted from the original published in Schools Week.
About Al Kingsley
Al Kingsley is Chair of a UK multi-academy trust, an EdTech author, speaker, and podcast host, as well as being CEO of NetSupport. His book, “My Secret #EdTech Diary,” is published by John Catt Educational Ltd and is available from Amazon.
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