How can schools use new technologies to drive positive change and measurable impact? Our experts, Steve Forbes and Mark House, run through their 5 top tips.

#1: Let Learning Lead Tech: When parents, pupils and teachers demand certain technology because other schools in the area have it, schools can be pressured into making hasty decisions to invest huge amounts of money into new devices. But without a proper strategy, these devices end up not being used or worse – being disruptive in lessons. Before investing in any new technologies, make sure you have a clear plan of what you want to achieve for your school. Every school is different and will have different strengths and areas that they want to develop. By understanding your school’s vision, a strategy can be created to ensure that technology helps to achieve these goals in an integrated way, as opposed to being an afterthought or something that is implemented separately.

#2: Embrace The Cloud: Every school in the UK will ultimately have to move to the cloud, but only around 3% have done so far. Moving to the cloud is one of the best ways to improve learning opportunities while saving schools time and money. It mitigates the cost of maintaining expensive servers on site that sit idle for more than a third of the year. With a server like the Microsoft Azure cloud, for example, you only pay for the time you’re using it. It may not presently be possible to entirely move your school to the cloud, but a few small steps can help your school save a large amount of money whilst also transforming the way that your teachers and students use technology.

#3: Explore Free Apps: There are some fantastic apps out there that can have a transformative effect on the way a teacher works – which, for example, enable them to set and collect homework projects, mark and provide feedback in realtime and capture evidence. When implemented correctly, many of these tools can be used to replace expensive software such as VLEs or additional servers that are doing the same job. Check out Office 365 and Google Apps for Education - when we show teachers how easy it is to use these tools and the amount of time it can save them, we get a remarkable reaction.

#4: Think 10 Steps Ahead: State schools have been facing a 10% budget cut at the same time as they’re seeing kids arrive at school using technology in a way which is increasingly different to the IT the school provides. This is because technology is no longer moving at an incremental speed – it’s incredibly fast, so the only way we can keep up is to think 10 times quicker than the current pace of change. To achieve that, many schools with, say, 100 printers, might think they need 110 to keep up, but the answer is actually that they don’t need any at all. Using this mindset will not only ensure technology is working seamlessly for your teachers and pupils, but it will future-proof your choices.

#5: Skillset, Toolset, Mindset: To develop a successful technology model, schools need three things; skillset, toolset and mindset. Implementing any new technology requires a change management process which needs thorough preparation and a clear idea of how your chosen technology will drive real change. If schools can get their change management right, you can increase productivity, raise standards and save huge amounts of money.

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