Making decisions about where to allocate resources can leave school leaders feeling like they are tending to an ever-growing collection of spinning plates - never more so than right now, as schools face the dual burden of shrinking budgets and soaring costs. EdTech can be a valuable tool in helping school leaders to gain oversight of whether their precious resources are being used efficiently, as well as providing opportunities to optimise budgets.
A great initial step in any exploration of how schools can leverage EdTech to suit your needs is an audit of all existing resources. A thorough examination of all IT assets - both hardware and software - will likely uncover inefficiencies and missed opportunities to get the most out of this budget. Readily available digital guides can take you through this process step by step, so that you can understand whether your existing resources are meeting all your needs effectively, and perhaps even pointing to where there is potential for improvement.
A thorough audit, whilst time consuming, is worth the effort as it will act as a one-stop point of reference for how devices and software licenses are being used throughout the school. Armed with a real-time report on the status of hardware, underutilised devices and programmes going unused, school leaders can make informed budgetary and logistical decisions.
These reports can also provide an overview of all contracts and license details (such as prices, expiry dates and vendors), leaving school leaders well informed far in advance of renewal time. They may also reveal that the school has become overburdened with an unnecessary number of EdTech solutions, when just one may provide all required functions at a much lower cost. Collating these details in a central place gives school leaders more control of how devices are used and allocated, as well as which applications, programmes and licences are providing an adequate return on investment.
Not only does this present potential cost savings, it also could lead to streamlined operations and management of solutions and improved device functionality as disk space is freed up. Spending a short length of time researching different options, based on the new information close to hand, can be an extremely worthwhile exercise by potentially revealing a solution which would better suit the needs of the school and would yield huge resource savings.
Keeping your school’s devices up to date with the latest software can be an administrative headache, but it is crucial in maintaining peak functionality as well as ensuring access to the latest features and security protections. A lack of user cooperation can stymie this, particularly if updates pop up during lessons or planning time. Some EdTech solutions can help you to overcome this barrier, by allowing updates to be automated and scheduled outside of peak hours - a dual-edged bonus which safeguards valuable working hours from disruption whilst also keeping devices running well. Certain EdTech solutions will additionally include cybersecurity functions, protecting schools’ networks from potential threats. This reduces the need to pay for expensive security licences separately, whilst also ensuring that personal data and key assets are protected.
It is worth bearing in mind that certain EdTech solutions offer specific cost-saving functions. For instance, remote control of devices allows administrators to monitor which devices have been left idle or on standby for a long time or even set times for devices to be switched off. By minimising energy wastage and prolonging battery life, EdTech can yield energy savings which can add up quickly over time as well as ensuring the longevity of the device’s life span.
Arguably, teachers are a school’s most valuable resource, both in terms of impact on students and with salaries accounting for the majority of a school’s spend. EdTech solutions can alleviate the burden of numerous repetitive administrative tasks from teachers, allowing them to spend more time on what truly matters - engaging with their students. Hours of lesson planning time can be saved, with numerous EdTech solutions acting as virtual resource libraries - collating videos, quizzes and other lesson materials into one easily accessible point. These digital resources also allow teachers to share materials with their students with less need for printing or photocopying - cutting down on paper waste and on the associated costs.
EdTech can also support teachers and students by helping teachers to adapt lessons to suit the needs of each individual learner, which can in turn deliver huge benefits to students and boost engagement in the classroom. Some EdTech solutions give teachers further support in managing classroom behaviour, such as monitoring how students are using their school devices and even remotely controlling these devices - cutting down on potential distractions. With messaging functions, as well as video and audio recording capabilities, EdTech can also create new opportunities for learners and teachers to interact. Students are given more choice as to how to communicate with their teachers, express areas of difficulty and allowing them to access support more easily.
The pressures facing schools to make savings means that school leaders are faced with increasingly tough decisions about where time, money and assets are allocated. As a result, EdTech can be viewed as an unnecessary expense - particularly if technological assets are not being used to their full capabilities. However, through careful consideration and some time spent to understand the particular needs of their learning community, school leaders are likely to find a way to make EdTech work for them, ensure they are used to support pedagogy and, as long as they are clear on ways to measure impact, can ultimately help deliver a richer learning experience and a more streamlined working environment for all.