School IT Blog

Ageing Kit, Failing Systems, Learning Destroyed; How To Future Proof Your School's Ict Equipment.

Mon 06 October, 2014

"I went into the suite, but it took so long to turn all the computers on, that we had to leave almost as soon as we got there"

"I had spent ages preparing for the lesson, only for the Internet not to work"

"We never even plan ICT lessons, because the technology is just not reliable enough"

Have you ever said or heard any of these statements in your school. Chances are that most of us have, because technology in education often seems to disappoint. How can we avoid this situation? What does a school need to do to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that technology enhances and excites, rather than frustrates and diminishes?

Here is our guide to future proofing your IT systems and equipment:

1. Know your equipment:

All electronic devices have a shelf life and after this point they will start to fail more regularly, to slow down and eventually to become unusable. On portable devices this shelf life is reduced by transport and handling, which means that they components undergo more stress and more wear. The parts that will fail first will be the parts that are used most often, such as the battery, hard drive and cosmetic parts, such as the keyboard. 

Action/s: Make a list of the technology in your school, when you purchased it and work with your support partner to decide when it needs to be/should have been replaced. 

2. Purchase for learning:

Unfortunately, some technology purchases in school are made without first thinking about the learning that the equipment will be used for. This is either due to current trends in education or simply on a lack of knowledge on behalf of the person purchasing the equipment. If you want to embed technology into all aspects of the curriculum, then it is no good hiding your technology in one room in the school. However on the other hand, if you want to teach children to touch type, then buying tablet devices makes this harder. You must consider the key aspects of learning, before making your purchases.

Action: Make sure that before you buy anything you have a clear vision of what you want the technology to do for the learning in your school.

3. Don't be fooled by cheap prices:

Obviously, all schools have a budget and technology must fit into this, but schools must not buy something just because it is perceived as the cheapest option. This again relates to the above point, a device might seem cheap at first, but does it do what you want it to do? How long will it last? Is it robust enough for the children who are going to be using it? Is it actually better to purchase less of something that would do the job better?

Action: Test any equipment rigorously before you buy it. See one in another school, borrow a test device from your potential supplier or go to a trade show.

4. Plan for the future:

It is far too easy, with the transient nature of teaching and of technology to only start to think about replacing a device or set of devices once it has stopped working, but we must move away from this. The best way to ensure that you never get in to this situation is to think about creating a rolling programme of replacements, for all devices in your school. Once you have your vision in place and you know the equipment in your school this can be done by having one meeting with your head teacher, bursar and IT support partner. Sit down and agree what investment you are going to make on what, when and how. Ensure that you set a timescale and are sensible with your ambitions. It is always better to start small and work from a small success, rather than an over ambitious failure!

Action: Have a meeting with the key people in your school; agree a budget, rolling programme and timetable.

5. Choose a pro-active support partner.

Time is a precious commodity in life, but even more so in school. Your IT support company cannot be reactive or unsupportive. You must choose a company that are pro-active, that can guide you as a school and you can form a true partnership with. It is essential that you do not accept less than this from any company that your school pays for a service. Know the Service Level Agreement that you have signed with your company and keep them accountable to it.

Action: If you are unhappy with your support provider, then invite other companies to tender for the business and choose the best.

If you need help with anything that you have read in this article then Soft Egg can help. We have Consultants who can help you assess your equipment, set a vision for your school or assist you when making a purchase. We can also provide you with a great IT support package, amongst other services. If you are interested then call us on: 08450948492, or email us on: getintouch@softegg.co.uk