Administrators who are in charge of making financial decisions for a school district have a lot of challenges on their plates. One challenge is balancing the need for more technology in school with the costs of implementing technology – which often means building a networked infrastructure from the ground up.
The budget challenges can be daunting, especially since some districts are seeing fewer funds sent their way each year. But the benefits – better learning outcomes thanks to more student/teacher access to in-class technology – justify the costs.
Especially if an administrator can find ways to lower the total costs.
Here are considerations that can help a school district lower education IT costs and still implement a working solution.
Make a Strategic, Phased Plan
One mistake districts make is thinking they have to do everything at once. Everyone wants a fancy, high-tech infrastructure with the latest in networking, hardware, and software, but the truth is, you don’t have to have it all right now.
Creating a strategic phased plan that breaks out your ultimate vision for the district’s education IT infrastructure into manageable stages can help you lower immediate costs and spread them out over several years.
Figure Out What Can Be Improved Upon
Taking stock of the capabilities you have now can help identify pieces that can be upgraded instead of built from scratch or bought brand-new.
Use your existing capabilities as a foundation. From there, using your strategic plan, you can figure out the next steps. You may realize that to get the outcomes and capabilities you want, you may need to just upgrade the software you use, since the hardware you have now works fine.
Or, you may decide that you can forgo complicated networking because you have a functioning network already in place that could be upgraded later but is good for now.
Create a Virtual Learning Environment
One part of paying for education IT costs is finding ways to use technology to reduce costs elsewhere. And one big expenditure a school has every year is paper and ink.
Schools go through an enormous volume of paper and ink. A virtual learning environment (VLE) eliminates all but the most necessary paper records and saves untold thousands each year for the entire district.
Even if you don’t eliminate the need for paper, you can use your VLE to control and monitor how much printing is done, which in and of itself can reduce overall paper/ink volume.
Adopt the Cloud
Not too long ago, schools had to buy a copy of a software program for every device. Now, though, a school can use a cloud-based service to deliver essential software to each device without having to buy full versions or copies.
Software companies have made it easy by making many of their services and offerings available on the cloud. Cloud computing has helped revolutionize how teachers and students access software that transforms the learning experience into something greater.
The flexibility of the cloud can’t be understated, either. You can deploy your software solution anywhere you are located, to any device – all that is required is an Internet connection.
Take Advantage of Server Virtualization
A district-wide IT network requires a lot of computing power and storage capacity. This means you need servers.
Server virtualization is a method by which a server admin can take one physical server and run multiple, and separate, instances of a server, each doing different things. This multiplies the utility of a server and means school districts can do more with less, essentially.
Contract Administration and Maintenance to a Third Party
Overhead is a tremendous chunk of education IT costs, and it’s one that you cannot make go away; your servers, devices, and networks have to be maintained and operated.
Instead of having your own in-house team of IT specialists, use a third-party vendor to handle all of your school infrastructure management needs. A reputable vendor can help you lower your overall IT costs by reducing the amount of overhead you have, which helps make an IT solution more affordable.
Education IT doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. Work with a partner who can help you plan and implement a budget-friendly technology solution that makes an impact.