Getting shiny new ICT equipment in a school is always exciting and a great way to showcase innovation. Artificial intelligence looks to be one of the next big attractions for those working in an education environment. Flipped learning is a popular one and also virtual reality for immersive learning experiences. Not to mention all the shiny new PCs, tablets, laptops, projectors and many other things that you can buy to get your ICT looking impressive and working without fail.

Yet how do you work out what’s best for your school? Is it the latest and greatest new ICT craze, or is it the ever-reliable workhorses such as desktops and laptops that you can’t do without?

Take a look at the following questions to ask yourself before embarking on an ICT innovation journey where equipment might look impressive and then never get used.

  1. What’s out there that’s new and shiny?

    Before you decide you want something new you need to research it and not just talk to the company selling it. How do you find out about the latest technologies and assess whether they are right for your school? An external ICT provider who works solely in the education space will have good visibility of the technologies out there that are suitable for education and can work with you to understand if they are right for your school.
  2. Will it be used and who will it benefit?

    Following the initial ‘wow’ factor, how often do you think the technology will be used and will it benefit students for attainment or staff for time savings? Do you run the risk of the technology not being used at all if it’s either just a fad or you don’t have time to embed the technology properly? According to a recent report, a staggering 96% of teachers believe technology has had a positive impact in the way children participate and learn in lessons. A further 56% of respondents in the survey said that pupils were noticeably more engaged when technology is used. It’s your/our job to ensure the right technology is chosen in order to make this a reality.
  3. How will you train staff on it?

    Consider how you might find the time to train staff on new technologies. Time is a scarce resource in schools so this is a big consideration before buying anything new and shiny! It takes time to learn what technology is available and then it takes time to prepare to use it in lessons. According to an Education Technology article: “Some teachers are reluctant to spend time experimenting with tech when their day is already full, especially if they have had a bad experience with older equipment.” Implementing new school technologies is great but you will need to release teachers from teaching and marking for a number of hours to get them trained on how it works.
  4. Is it good value for money?

    There are plenty of good deals out there for education establishments, it’s just a case of working with a company that can search for those deals for you and ensure you get good value for money. It’s also worth asking your ICT provider what experiences they have had with other schools. Where have they seen ICT provide a good return on investment? What should/shouldn’t you be investing your ICT budget in? It’s always a good idea to ask around and do your research. BESA’s figures show that some schools are expecting to spend nearly 3% more on ICT in 2018–19 than they have budgeted for in 2017–18. If this is true for your school, it makes sense to be spending the extra amount on ICT that really matters.
  5. Will it go end of life or is it futureproof?

    According to TeachThought: “Education technology is costly. It takes practice and a lot of trial-and-error, and just when you start to find your rhythm, it all changes again.” With all the time involved in taking teachers out of teaching to train them up on new technologies, and the hours it takes to get them all fully embedded, you need at least a good few years out of them in use to get a decent return. Shiny new technology is great until the next new shiny item replaces it – potentially undoing all your hard work. A good ICT provider will have roadmaps and visibility of what’s next on the horizon to make sure you only invest in technology that’s fit to last. Another good reason to work with an external ICT provider.

If you’re keen to invest in new technologies for your school just use the list above to ensure you ask the right questions before you invest, and work with an ICT provider with an in-depth knowledge of the education space. In doing so you can be sure you are spending your budget on the most suitable devices, at the right price, that they will last for years to come and they’ll be used extensively.

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