April 2, 2020
Network server upgrade or laptops for every student? A new learning management system or eTextbooks?
Every year, school districts are faced with the same challenge; how to get the most out of their budgets for the next school year. And Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) must decide how to prioritize their spending on technology tools and initiatives.
Out of all the things districts have learned through the COVID-19 epidemic, nearing the top is understanding that it’s near impossible to be prepared for every scenario. Most school districts probably never thought they would have to consider launching a distance learning program in a matter of days. And in an ideal world, your school district would be able to afford whatever is needed to support student learning. But that’s not the case. It’s essential to identify priorities and budget accordingly.
Even with Congress recently passing legislation to provide funding to education aiming to improve outcomes for students who have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus, the list of student and district needs is long. No matter your budget, here are the top things to prioritize in your IT budget for the next school year.
Whichever initiatives make it in your budget this year, ensure they’re able to work with each other. If your EdTech products aren’t working as one integrated system, it’s time to move towards interoperability.
When tools don’t have the same UI or are disconnected from each other, it costs your district time and money. Implementations take longer, teachers, admins, students and parents take more time to learn each system or UI, and the district may even need more IT staff to ensure it has the expertise to provide support for each product and system.
It doesn’t have to be this complicated (or expensive). Invest in a connected, interoperable system this year to save money down the road.
When teachers don’t understand a technology, they don’t use it in their classrooms. And if the technology isn’t being used in the classroom, what’s the point?
Many school districts devote immense resources to the technical side of EdTech implementation, but neglect to invest in the human side. Beyond the basics of downloading a piece of software and logging into it, teachers should regularly receive high-level training on how technology can be
incorporated into the curriculum and how technology can support learning.
And when your teachers are more proficient with technology, your IT team will receive fewer support tickets and spend less time troubleshooting tech problems, which will free them up to do higher value work. Plus students will receive a better, tech-integrated educational experience.
Cyberbullying. Explicit messages. Data theft. Ransomware. Does your school have a plan to deal with these threats?
A cyber safety plan is essential to protect students, teachers, and even the school district from the many types of cyber threats. Put a plan in place before something goes wrong. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to cybersafety.
A cybersafety plan needs to go beyond the technical details of protecting data from theft and students from online threats. It should also incorporate an action plan on how to respond to different situations. When and how do parents need to be informed about a cybersecurity breach or cyberbullying incident? When should the police be informed?
Leave room in your budget for new, innovative initiatives. Technology changes so quickly, and as we’re seeing as of late, there are outside elements that can affect learning tremendously. Six months or a year from now, you may want to pilot a program or adopt a new tool that you haven’t even heard of today. Create a budget line to give yourself the freedom to experiment with innovation.
Looking for more ways to get the most out of your IT budget? We can help. Get in touch with Linewize today.
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