Summer is fast approaching, and schools are starting to receive their funding for infrastructure and technology improvements for the 2017/18 school year. With technology budgets dwindling in many school districts, school officials in charge of choosing what investments to make can often make mistakes prioritizing projects to be funded. We’ve put together five common mistakes schools districts make entering the summer months that can have lasting impacts on the students they serve.
1. Going with the “good deal”
It’s not hard to imagine how overwhelming it must be for school officials to properly research potential software, hardware or infrastructure upgrades to make in such a short period of time. They often look at the budget they are given and try to make as many upgrades or purchases they can with the limited funds they’re provided with. On the surface, more upgrades sound like a good thing. However, just because you’re getting a good deal on certain projects, it doesn’t mean that they can truly be considered an “upgrade.” Without the proper guidance, it’s easy to make changes that are incompatible with established hardware and software or eat up precious bandwidth in existing networks. This is where having a trusted IT staff or managed IT service could provide much-needed guidance and relief. They can help prioritize, research, implement and service the upgrades you make during the summer months to make sure they will promote an environment conducive to education.
2. Lack of teacher involvement
Another major mistake school districts make is not involving the educators enough with technology decisions. Districts often make impulsive purchases because they believe it would be beneficial to students without consulting with the teachers that will need to incorporate this technology into their classrooms. Teachers can provide great insight into how their students interact with existing technologies and how new software or hardware could make it easier to teach and easier for students to retain information.
3. Improper hardware monitoring
School budgets have made it difficult for districts to properly staff IT departments in charge of monitoring and maintaining hardware, software and the networks they operate on. It’s extremely important that school districts have competent professionals in charge of managing their systems and technology with the rise in cyber attacks, ransomware, and other viruses or malware. School servers contain sensitive information on both faculty and students which could lead to an expensive fix if those servers and databases were compromised.
4. Improperly implementing a Bring Your Own Device policy
Many school districts, in lieu of purchasing hardware such as laptops and tablets, allow students to bring in their own personal devices and to connect to school networks while in class. Without a written plan involving IT administrators and teachers, this could be a disastrous decision. IT administrators must be sure that their networks are sufficiently protected from many potential issues that could arise from an external device connecting to an internal school network and teachers need to express and monitor appropriate use of personal devices in the classroom.
5. Substituting Teaching for Technology
Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace and continue to prove to be a useful tool for teachers and students in the classroom. However, many districts — due to the lack of proper guidance — will make investments into hardware or software that could “automate” education in certain ways. It’s important to remind school districts that technology can help with the education process, but does not replace having quality educators that know how to properly implement that technology into their classroom. A good IT staff or managed IT company can help educate school districts about a proposed upgrades features so the district can make an informed decision on which projects to move forward with.