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Technology moves on so quickly. I recall when it was ok to say that you weren’t computer savvy in an interview. Nowadays if you say that in an interview it is a cause for concern. After all, we have children being taught computer programming in school and getting marked on how well they can use a computer. It is an integrated way of life, and it starts at school.
This makes me wonder if the schools can keep up with the ever changing landscape of technology. After all, investment is high, the maintenance and servicing is annual, repairs are required and they have to make sure that the pupils are not learning obsolete systems.
Let me throw some numbers at you. In 2015, Gartner reported that global spending on technology in schools was valued at £17.5bn. In the UK, this number was £900m. The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) reported that schools had £619m budgeted for ICT, with £95m earmarked for software and digital content in 2015. The UK has one of the highest computer to pupil ratio globally (1.4 pupils per computer).
This shows that computers are essential. It also shows that IT equipment is costly, so getting an efficient network is critical from the word go. BESA stated that in 2015, UK schools had 1.3m desktops, 840,000 laptops, and 730,000 tablets. However, 22% of these were ‘ineffective’ and potentially gathering dust under a desk somewhere, going more obsolete by the month.
For schools, upgrading equipment is a major project, so every effort is made to keep every system updated as much as possible. So how can schools with budget constraints ensure that the pupils are getting the best equipment for learning?
Here is my simple advice:
Seek out an expert
Ask around and make sure that you know what sort of infrastructure you require, best suited to the needs of the school. Will the infrastructure support learning in the way you desire?
A good advisor will show you how to get the most out of your budget, potentially buying refurbished hardware instead of brand new. They can advise on cloud technology so you are not paying more than you need to back up your systems, and they also know their stuff when it comes to free apps that support learning. Chances are they will be able to share best practice from other schools and educational environments.
They provide ongoing support and it’s always good to know that there is problem solver on the end of the phone to speak to if things aren’t going as smooth as you want.
Keep in mind that refurbished machines, when done properly, can provide cost effective equipment that allows schools to keep up with the fast pace of technology and is much better than always buying new stock.