As technology has evolved, it’s drastically changed the way we do things in every walk of life, including education. Chalkboards are being replaced by interactive whiteboards and teachers can now send out homework lessons and progress reports via email.
There are so many technology options out there that it takes some mindful consideration to make sure you choose the best tech for your needs. Just because something can be done differently using electronic gadgets, doesn’t always mean it’s a good expense for your school’s technology budget.
Twin State Technical Services works with educators in and around the Quad City region to help them make the best tech decisions that will give them a positive return on their investment and increase efficiency.
What does smart, ROI-based education technology look like?
We worked with Assumption High School in Davenport, IA to help them ditch 13 different paper registration forms for new students and move to an all-digital system. Our EZ Enroll system allows all information to be filled out digitally and automatically populates into their student records management system. Saving them 113 hours each year in administrative costs for manually entering all those student forms.
How do you make the best decisions on technology budgeting? We’ve got 10 tips that will assist you with targeting the IT solutions that will give you the best value for your money.
Use these Tips to Help You Budget for School Tech
Technology spending in schools is only going to increase as advancements like augmented and virtual reality become mainstream.
Public schools spend over $3 billion per year on digital education content. (Capterra).
So much tech, so little time, and limited dollars to spend. But our tips can definitely make the technology choice easier for your school or district.
Look for Tech that Plays Well with Others
When choosing technology devices, you want to make sure they can be used with the widest amount of other software or hardware components. For example, you don’t want to buy classroom tablets that use only one proprietary charging cord and aren’t compatible with anything else. You also want any educational software you use to be compatible with multiple types of devices. Look for tech that is as flexible as possible.
Evaluate Critical Needs First
Instead of jumping into a new technology because it looks cool on paper, evaluate and identify your most critical needs that IT could possible help fill. Are you drowning in manual entry tasks? Do your teachers need a more efficient way to communication with parents so they aren’t answering emails late into the evening? The best IT value is that which solves issues you already have.
Use a Goal-Oriented Approach
What are your school’s or district’s main goals for the year or next few years? Once you have your main overarching goals in place, look at how technology can help you take the steps to get there. Too many schools go backwards, they buy a technology first, then try to fit it into a master plan. Instead, look at your goals first, then find tech that can help you achieve those goals.
Adopt Corporate Marketing Strategies
Many companies launched themselves and became successful on the power of digital technology. Educational institutions can also use those same strategies and tools like websites, promotional videos, and online assets to boost their reputation and enrollment.
Twin State Technical Services worked with Central DeWitt Community School District on a well-received marketing campaign that included new branding, website redesign, video production, and digital advertising. Their tech ROI was achieved in the following ways:
- Boost in staff morale
- Sales of promotional items with their new branding
- Ability to stay competitive
- Improved student, parent, and faculty communication through shared calendars
Pay Attention to Your Bandwidth Needs
With more devices relying on the same internet connection and local area networks, expansion needs should be kept in mind. Don’t forget to budget for any needed upgrades so your network doesn’t end up slowing that new technology down.
Use Data to Your Advantage
If you have a digital pass system to get into your high school, you may also have the ability to use traffic pattern data to improve efficiencies. Data from classrooms, parent communications, website forms, and more can be gathered digitally, charted, and evaluated to help you make smart, cost-saving decisions.
Don’t Forget Proper Training
Any purchase of new technology should also include training for teachers and staff, so they can make a fluid transition to the new system. It doesn’t do you any good to have a fancy new digital attendance system if no one is sure how to use it.
Look for Ways to Share the Risk
Could a new technology company use a great case study and reference to gain more business? If so, they may be willing to give you a discount in exchange for a testimonial. Also, don’t be shy about asking for the possibility to pilot a software or hardware system before you make a full investment.
Ask Your Students
Today’s students have grown up on technology because it’s always been a part of their lives in a way that it wasn’t for earlier generations. Leverage all that young IT knowledge and experience by asking for their insight into future school technology systems. As a bonus, they’ll feel like part of the process and adoption may go more smoothly.
Factor in Longevity and Total Costs
When budgeting for new school IT, get ahead of any future issues by factoring in your total costs, including the initial costs of hardware, software, installation, and training and ongoing costs over time, such as regular maintenance, upgrades, and estimated longevity before obsolescence.
Get a Free Educational Technology Consultation
Twin State Technical Services can help you choose the best value-added technologies that will both help you achieve educational goals for staff and students and reduce costs.education, school, technology