Roundtable: Does tech in schools always need to be new? Steve Haskew answers

In the fourth in our series, Steve Wright finds out if schools and universities always need to go after expensive new tech, or if they can learn to better harness what they already have?

Steve Haskew is Strategic commercial manager at Circular Computing.

Q. How can tightly budgeted schools and universities work with the tech they already have, to improve learning outcomes without spending more?

When we consider costs, we must look beyond just the economic factors of our decisions. We need to also examine the technological, social and environmental costs. It is perhaps unreasonable to think that we can continue to use technology to the point of breakdown. We need to think that there is a servicing solution, within the useful life of an asset, where you can bring the technology that has already been produced back to an as-new state so that the user experience is not compromised from a budgetary or technology perspective – whilst remaining socially and environmentally responsible.

Q. Are there common examples out there of edtech that isn’t being used to its full capabilities? Are educators buying kit that they don’t need, not realising that they already possess the functionality on an existing device?

It is difficult to comment on this across the broad range of edtech. From a PC or laptop perspective, I think most educators know what they have and what it is capable of. The question of whether the hardware is fit for a specific purpose, is centred around the desired output of the project at hand, and whether the software needs more ‘firepower’ from the hardware. I would suggest that 99% of tasks in the education space can be managed by hardware that is not latest-generation CPUs.

Q. The temptation will often be to view the latest generation of tech as the most effective. Should educators approach this notion with some scepticism?

The relationship between the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the education space results in a linear behaviour being maintained (take, use, dispose), and the client’s choice being made upon availability of new technology. Adopting a reuse model (such as remanufactured laptops, for example) produces a shift to a ‘circular economy’ model, with its concurrent economic advantages. It also puts the client in control of what they actually need.

Q. Where can schools and universities go (online?) to find advice and examples on how to repurpose, recycle and refurbish their edtech?

It is becoming more common for IT Asset Disposal (ITAD) services to be scoped and written into the client’s contract at the delivery stage. Edtech users need to consider Device as a Service (DaaS) to accommodate this element. This is becoming ever more necessary, as users are educated about electronic waste and damage to the environment caused by a mismanaged component.

Further reading

  Jisc: Building Digital Capability  –

  Amazing projects in Microsoft Excel –

  Learning to Code with Swift Playgrounds –

  Using Scriptable for shortcuts –

  ICT Evangelist blog: Is that edtech tool pedagogically valid?

  Stone Group: IT Recycling  –

  Information Commissioner’s Office: IT Asset Disposal for Organisations –

  Association of Network Managers in Education –

  Edtech Impact –

  Jisc 3D scanning service –

  De Montfort University Square Mile Project –

  Edugeek forum –