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Moving forwards, looking back – with James Kight

Fifth in a series of education technology experts from across the world of education looking back on a year of innovation, and anticipating what the coming one might bring for schools, colleges and universities

What three words sum up 2018’s education technology scene for you? 

Security, innovation and efficiency.

What have been the particular challenges of 2018 for education providers?

Issues surrounding security and data breaches have been key challenges, particularly in the wake of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Education providers have had to learn what impact this has on the storage of data very quickly, as well as changes that need to be made to current systems within already stretched budgets.

Increasingly more staff are now required to improve their knowledge of IT systems. Whereas in previous years many could get by on limited understanding, full awareness
of the risks posed by hackers and potential data breaches is now absolutely necessary to remain prepared. Schools and colleges don’t always have the money to invest in top-level equipment, nor do they have the time for professionals to undergo specialist IT training. Therefore, striking that balance between sufficient security and value for money is a challenge in itself.

What technology have you seen making an impact in education this year? 

There has been a huge upsurge in schools seeking managed print solutions. This involves print providers managing all aspects of a school’s printing devices, including servicing and stock replenishment. This service was expensive and logistically complicated in its first phases, however, issues have now been ironed-out and simple subscription options now help alleviate the pressures of budget constraints.

With so many innovative options, teachers need to understand what technology will benefit them and why

There are minimal upfront charges and manageable fixed monthly fees, which all help to bring down daily running costs. There are also a variety of packages that include automatic cartridge delivery and onsite maintenance visits, which are a popular choice for busy education providers. Getting such systems in place must be a priority for schools in 2019.

What would you like to see education providers put on their agendas for 2019?

Innovative technology comes with an increasing vulnerability to hacking and data breaches, which is a real concern for the education sector. Therefore the safeguarding of information has never been more important. Big brands have recognised this concern and are introducing innovative solutions to help tackle cyber security issues. For example, most large printer manufacturers now offer security options like intrusion prevention. Decision-makers in education should utilise these technological changes and invest in them. With cost-effective managed print options now available on these devices, there is no need to pay high upfront costs to try to save a school from the effects of a cyber attack.

What do you hope that teachers and lecturers will start to do more of next year to really make the most of all these digital opportunities?

Teachers and lecturers can make the most of digital opportunities by investing time and effort into discovering the technological needs of their school, college or university. Conducting initial research is essential; though it can be a time-consuming task, it should save time and money in the long run. With so many innovative options, teachers need to understand what technology will benefit them and why. This will prevent wasting money on unnecessary resources. Moving forward, I hope that education professionals continually make the effort to understand their IT needs and wants, and use this knowledge to invest in the right products on the market.

James Kight is Managing Director of Printerland.co.uk