For many teachers, professors and procurement staff, the British Educational Training and Technology Show (BETT) can be a daunting experience. So, to help you make sense of all the gadgets, jargon and acronyms at BETT 2014, Gemma Platt, product marketing manager at Casio provides top tips for making the most of your school’s budget at the show.
Keeping up with the kids
The rate at which technology is evolving meant it was only a matter of time before the Department of Education shook up the ICT curriculum. This year alone we have witnessed kids clocking up huge gaming bills on mobile phones and seen a rise in ‘iTods’ – the number of toddlers using tablet devices.
So, as of September 2014 computing will become a compulsory part of the national curriculum in England. What we currently know is that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will be replaced by a new flexible curriculum in computing - geared towards equipping children with the skills they need to become active participants in the ‘fast-paced’ digital world.
Think practically and consider long term goals
With the rise of the digital generation, changes to the ICT curriculum and further budget cuts placing increased pressure on teachers, it is becoming more important than ever for you to invest in the right equipment, at the right time for your students. With January’s BETT just around the corner it’s important to remember not to adopt the latest technology just for the sake of it! Any new purchase must pass the following litmus test:
Think long term – not just the here and now: Unfortunately due to the nature of quarterly budget review cycles, teachers often focus – when allocating tech spend – on the upfront costs of equipment. But when managing ICT budgets we should be thinking about the ‘total cost of ownership’ (TCO) – what is the lifetime cost of that item? How does this compare to the initial cost and how will a low TCO help the school pull back budget long term?
Look out for trade-in schemes: Trade-in schemes are a great way to get access to the latest equipment at a fraction of the cost. If schools have outdated equipment that needs an upgrade then why not trade it in? At least this way companies can help safely dispose of the outdated kit.
Think Green: In what is still a fragile global economy, all businesses are looking to streamline spend as much as possible, but this doesn’t mean that schools have to sacrifice on the longer term environmental benefits. The topic of green technology in the classroom is only going to gain in importance over the coming years – so it’s important for today’s buyers to think green.
Do your homework: Teachers right now are in charge of a unique group of children, dubbed ‘Generation Y’. This demographic has never known life without computers and the internet, which makes them long on digital nous and short on attention span. It’s important to ask them about the type of learning experiences they would enjoy in the classroom – you might be surprised by their response.
There’s no doubt that technology helps schools become more competitive and raises levels of student performance. But high-performance technology has to be bought intelligently, not simply thrown into classrooms without a plan or consideration for the long-term impact on running cost (total cost of ownership) and the environment.
And as for the best way to use this technology? Well, that’s down to the creativity of you as the teacher.