Mobile devices, wireless network stress testing and bandwidth issues are critical issues facing school districts and their budgets, according to Insight Enterprises, a provider of hardware, software and service solutions for districts and schools.
The company has identified five key issues education decision makers must consider as technology places increasingly heavy demands on network infrastructure.
1. Spending on IT architecture
The ways that various gadgets are deployed in schools will impact budget planning, depending on the age of the building and how the school was initially wired, Insight says. Schools must plan for students accessing the technology network through a hard-wired connection in the wall or wirelessly through a router.
“The Wi-Fi approach may have some schools doing math on how many routers they need – and budgeting for whether a classroom can share a router with neighbouring rooms,” it says. “All of these solutions can create bandwidth issues and affect students' abilities to access content.”
2. Ditching the computer lab
"Instead of using technology in areas outside of the classroom, schools are looking to adopt budgets that bring tech within arms' reach,” Insight says. “One solution is introducing mobile, digital learning carts as an alternative to traditional computer labs. This requires districts to weigh budgets that provide wireless access to the internet throughout the school.”
3. Replacing textbooks with eBooks
Print books are still used in classrooms around the world, but according to the Association of American Publishers, eBook sales continue to rise steadily (45% since 2011) and are now outpacing print sales. “Schools are adopting budgets to address eBook demands in the classroom and finding that eBooks save money in the long run,” Insight explains.
“Even with the extra costs of purchasing devices to read eBooks, schools are weighing whether it is cheaper to provide devices that can download a book than to buy a printed one.”
4. Adopting digital assessments
Insight says schools are moving toward tests and quizzes that are designed and stored on a digital platform. “Schools have found the digital approach can more easily demonstrate student progress, identify trends, and provide immediate feedback to students.”
5. Clicking into a digital response world
Schools are considering the cost of introducing ‘clickers’ in the classroom. “These devices allow an entire class to simultaneously answer questions with the data recorded in real time. They can be coupled with other mobile devices and smart boards to create a fully digital environment.”
Dave Cristal, vice president and general manager of Insight Public Sector, says, "Tech has arrived in schools, but the coming year also brings potential for costly failures as districts make the jump and increase students' usage of a wide range of devices.”
He says, "Whether it's laptops, tablets, smartphones or desktops, teachers and students are using devices more than ever before, and it is vital that school districts prepare their infrastructure for what lies ahead."