Futureproofing and sustainability: Trevor Maloney

In the second of our series on sustainable edtech, Steve Wright talks to Epson’s Business Manager for Business Products, Trevor Maloney

Across edtech, are there any general rules for ensuring that your investments are sustainable and future-proof?

When it comes to an educational outlet’s sustainability approach, moving to greener practices need not always involve huge overhauls. Small switches can have big impacts on energy bills and cost savings, especially when it comes to consumables like ink cartridges and printer parts. Turning to inkjet printing technology, for example, and using high-volume inkjet solutions, such as replaceable ink packs, can yield big sustainability savings for educational institutions.

My perspective on hardware, meanwhile, is simple. Technology is racing on at a pace no one could have imagined, even ten years ago. Replacement servers are a significant cost for schools – and they often have a habit of failing when least expected, with the cost of a replacement putting a huge strain on the school budget.

These facts, together with the enormous increase in cybercrime and developments in filtering requirements for schools, means that cloud-based solutions are the only realistic way to keep up with the rapid pace of change without spending whopping great chunks of your IT budget unnecessarily on hardware upgrades and replacements.

Can you give us examples of current edtech that should have a decent lifespan?

Many educational institutions are still using old-style whiteboards, which have a limited lifespan, with high costs to upgrade and install. Switching to an interactive projector means that schools and universities benefit from interactive displays with a longer lifespan. They can project directly onto an existing whiteboard’s surface, which minimises the cost of installation and removes disruption to lessons.

However, classroom tech isn’t just something to wow prospective pupils and parents with. Screen size really matters in an education environment. Research has shown that 58% of students can’t read content on a 70-inch flat panel, which means that their education is suffering – if they can’t read it, they can’t engage with it. Interactive projectors give educators the ability to increase and decrease the screen size, as required, helping every student to enjoy the very best teaching and learning methods available.

Classroom tech isn’t just something to wow prospective pupils and parents with.

What about more general green credentials: do some forms of edtech use less energy and other resources than others?

The energy and resource use of products varies greatly from school to school, and even from room to room – and this is something that all educational outlets should look at, in order both to benefit from significant cost and energy savings, and to help the environment. Methods of reducing an organisation’s footprint range from minimal changes like turning on eco-mode on a projector, to improving efficiencies in day-to-day business operations.

For example, when it comes to a school or college’s daily printing requirements, switching from laser to inkjet units can help educational facilities produce up to 99% less waste, consume 96% less energy, and produce up to 92% less CO2. Our research has shown that if all European business organisations switched to inkjet printing, enough energy would be saved to run at least 507,000 households across the continent.

Given that the responsibility for reducing environmental impact should be shared across all organisations and outlets – and changing to eco-friendly tech can help reduce internal costs – all educational establishments should strive towards improving their green credentials.

How much of the sustainability equation is about sourcing the right products, and how much is about helping teachers to adapt their teaching, in order to use edtech more sustainably?

Sourcing sustainable products and implementing more sustainable teaching practices are equally important here. This includes sourcing the right tech to support new ways of learning – like interactive projectors, which reduce the need for paper print-outs and thus minimise waste – as well as ensuring that teachers use these new classroom set-ups. This not only provides sustainability benefits, but also helps improve the learning experience for pupils.

Educating the next generation on our environmental impact, and the small things we can do to reduce this – like turning the lights off when leaving a classroom, or not printing things unnecessarily – will also play a key role when it comes to ongoing sustainability and energy savings.

Sustainability is also about upkeep. Which solutions are the most streamlined and don’t need continual updating?

The need for technology that can keep up with high demands, plus evolving school and college needs, is important within educational institutions. It ensures that equipment doesn’t need continual maintenance or updates, which can prove costly for budget-strapped organisations.

One solution to this is to implement technologies that reduce the number of devices that will need maintaining over time. For example, a projector that not only offers impressive images, but that provides top-of-the-range sound quality, means there is no need to supplement the projector with external speakers. This streamlines technology investments and minimises the number of devices that need maintaining or replacing.

W: epson.co.uk