Making the most of EdTech Resources
A simple audit of how EdTech resources are used is the essential starting point for planning a cost-effective digital strategy, according to Al Kingsley.
Start with an audit
Effectively leveraging EdTech can play an important role within the organisational puzzle, maximising resources to best support both learners and teachers in a period where time and supplies are increasingly precious commodities.
A non-negotiable starting point in the journey to making your EdTech work for you is undertaking a thorough audit to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the resources you already have at your disposal in your school – allowing you to effectively allocate these resources going forward. Whilst this might initially appear to be an overwhelming project, leaving some leaders unsure where to start, there is a plethora of informative digital guides which can support you in conducting an audit of your available software/hardware, helping you understand where resources are currently being mis- or under-used, what’s working well and the effectiveness of the technology. It also allows you to identify areas where you may benefit from additional solutions.
Keeping devices updated
A simple, but essential component to getting the most out of existing technology is ensuring all your school’s devices are kept up to date, something that can seem like a never-ending task. However, updates are critical in ensuring that technology that you have invested in is operating as efficiently as possible, thereby guaranteeing optimal functionality and allowing your students and staff to reap the most benefit. A simple solution is to automate such updates, which is a feature typically available on most operating systems. Updates can also be scheduled across your network of devices so that they do not disrupt valuable learning time.
Numerous EdTech platforms provide granular details which are vital in understanding the status of your devices. Some EdTech solutions are capable of producing real-time reports on the status of your hardware, underutilised devices and unused programmes and applications. They can also provide you with an overview of all your contract details, including expiry dates, vendor details and prices – allowing you to make informed decisions about your technology budget well in advance of renewal time. Having a central area which records this information is an undervalued resource, giving you more control in how your devices are used and helping you ensure you are seeing a satisfactory return on investment.
Research your options
Combining this insight with what you have learnt about your school’s technological needs from your tech audit allows you to decide whether you have been unduly burdened with too many EdTech solutions and services over time. It is certainly worth reassessing these to determine whether just one EdTech solution might meet all your needs at a lower price – saving time, money and reduces security risks. A small investment of time spent researching your options will likely yield much bigger benefits by delivering potentially very large resource savings.
Depending on the platform in question, EdTech offers outright savings through unexpected avenues. Remote and automated control of devices can allow you to monitor which devices have been left on standby for a long time, or even mandate set times at which devices are switched off. This can minimise the amount of energy wasted by idle devices, prolonging battery life and reducing energy costs at a time when utilities bills are placing a huge strain on school budgets.
Supporting lesson planning
Within the classroom, specific capabilities can cut down hours of work in planning lessons by making it easier than ever to adapt material to suit your learners’ needs. Using EdTech to personalise the learning journey can help to drive engagement from young people and boost cross-curricular connections. Teachers can also control their students’ devices remotely, cutting down on classroom distractions. EdTech can facilitate communication between teachers and students, providing avenues for teachers to send their students video and audio recordings, or even sharing their screens, to make it easier to explain concepts and support their students’ understanding.
Make resources accessible
Many EdTech platforms double up as a digital resource bank and video library, streamlining the dissemination of lesson materials and providing opportunities for learners at every level to access material that stretches their capabilities and expands their knowledge further. Not only does this make it easier for teachers by storing all their lessons and teaching materials in one place, it also significantly reduces the financial (and time) burden of printing to schools. Students have more opportunities to flag areas they find difficult, supporting their learning further and reducing the need for teachers to re-explain concepts several times or even miss out on opportunities to nip misunderstandings in the bud.
Protect your school’s network
Many EdTech solutions also include built in cybersecurity functions, reducing the need to purchase numerous expensive security licences. Protecting your school’s network from potential attacks is critical; the best-case scenario from a cybersecurity breach is that time is wasted dealing with spam, with the worst-case scenario entailing the loss of assets or even personal data being jeopardised. Reinforcing your network to guard against potential attacks is critical to protecting what is important to your school community.
The longer-term savings
In the current financial climate, EdTech can often be the first expenditure in the firing line as schools look to reduce costs and work within their over-stretched budgets. However, it is important not to act hastily and overlook the longer-term savings that digital solutions can bring to staff and students – both monetary and time. Through careful consideration and a little initial investment of time, it is very possible to make your EdTech work for you, improving the teaching and learning experience whilst alleviating some of the pressure on resources that schools throughout the country are feeling.
Al Kingsley is based in the UK and is the CEO of NetSupport, which provides IT solutions for schools and businesses worldwide. The Chair of a Multi-Academy Trust, Al also Chairs his region’s Governors’ Leadership Group, and is Chair of the BESA EdTech Group.
He sits on the Regional Schools Commissioner’s Advisory Board for the East of England and North London and is the authored of two books, ‘My School Governance Handbook’ and ‘My Secret #EdTech Diary’ He is the co-author of ‘A Guide to Creating a Digital Strategy in Education’.
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