Stretching Your School’s Education Technology Budget
Every school wants to offer its learners the best, most current, most meaningful opportunities. In the contemporary era, this means providing its learners with appropriate and useful tech. Unfortunately, tech can also be very expensive. With education budgets getting smaller, being fiscally responsible and taking advantage of cost-saving measures is paramount in ensuring that learners are taken care of and given the best opportunities.
Here are nine tips for stretching your dollars count in integrating tech in an educational environment.
Leverage Group Rates
One iPad is expensive, and a thousand iPads are a thousand times more expensive… or are they? Many tech providers offer a discount for buying tech in bulk. School districts can earn discounted rates if they are part of a consortium of schools investing in tech together. Get quotes from two or more tech suppliers. When companies compete, you can save big.
Be careful not to over-buy just because you think you’re getting a deal. It’s fiscally responsible for buying just what you need. Wasted tech can end up being a drain on resources. As tech ages, make sure you are investing in maintenance only for salvageable machines. For instance, more than five-year-old computers are often more expensive to repair than replace with newer, more efficient, and effective computer devices. Sustainable tech also means rotating the tech. Tech classes should receive the most advanced techs, or as much as their class necessitates, but most educators and classes would appreciate the second-hand devices.
Purchase the Right Tools for the Job
Make sure you are purchasing machines and tech that are appropriate for your school’s wants and needs. Decking out a computer lab with iPads, for example, might not be practical if learners will be using the lab for typing papers. You may not require a high-powered machine for every class. However, those same English classes do not need gaming laptops with high RAM and graphics cards. It’s a great rule of thumb to purchase the least expensive tech that meets your needs and is reliable and reputable.
Purchase Tools that Can Multi-Task
Don’t box yourself into tech that can be used for one class. One-to-one initiatives can be used for several classes and tasks. Ensure that you identify what tools can be used in all—or at least many—classes and provide learners with the opportunities they need.
Find Opportunities for Freemium Resources
Web-based software apps are becoming popular, and most apps for tablets are, if not free, available in a “lite” form that often is close to free. This is a good way to try out programs without committing to spending large portions of your tech budget. You can pilot apps with groups of learners, study their comparative efficacy and, if the learners, educators, and admin agree that something is worthwhile, you can invest your funding in the full paid version. This saves money that would otherwise be wasted buying apps that might end up being useless.
Even though education is a personal, often artistic endeavor, something is to be said about standardizing the tech. Standardizing the kind of tech you use can increase savings through bulk purchasing options, streamlining repair, and making training simpler.
Stop Spending Money on Old/Obsolete Tech
There may always be educators who prefer overhead projectors and cassette tapes. But maintaining these items is costly. Overhead projector bulbs alone can ravage school tech budgets. Phasing these technologies out or selling these old machines can pad your tech budget, making room for the things that will benefit the learners most.
Explore Alternative Funding Options
The easiest way to stretch a budget is to make a budget larger! Explore funding options, available grants, or donations. As BYOD becomes more popular, it offers the chance for districts to invest their tech budgets in other pursuits as well.
Tech is becoming a necessity in education. Preparing learners to use tech is an important real-world skill. Following these tips will enable your district to make money to provide the learners with the tech they need.