Engage your instructional leaders and conduct an analysis of your current status. While it may seem like a step backward, it is essential to build clarity and understanding about what the school district already has. Taking a full assessment of the district’s current inventory, how those devices are used, and how often they are used will help you uncover best practices and high use and also identify items of low use that should be sunset in the future.
Divide the district’s various technology into categories such as:
- Student portable devices
- Staff portable devices
- Student desktops
- Staff desktops (teacher and operational)
- Classroom A/V (sound and display)
- Infrastructure (printers/MFCs, servers, network equipment, HVAC for data centers, power, etc.)
- Professional learning for technical staff
- Professional learning for district instructional, support, and operational staff
The technology department should have an inventory of current devices used by students and teachers in a robust asset management system that provides the details of the devices, including their age and funding sources. The district should have a technology inventory for classroom displays and sound, an internet access plan for both on and off campus, and behind-the-scenes systems of support like user directory management, single sign-on, data system management, hardware maintenance processes, etc. All need to be documented when the current reality is assessed, as this starting point will serve as your baseline when you measure and report on how your district technology inventory has grown and changed through time.
Also note and document the current status of the systems and people who support the technology.
Some school districts base the amount of time IT support personnel spends at different schools in the district by calculating how many devices need support at the site. Other districts may allocate IT support based on how many staff and students are at schools within the district. Knowing how many devices and technologies are at each school as well as the school population will assist you in allocating the right amount of IT support to each site. The same method could be applied when calculating technology learning support needs for each school in the district.
Your intentionality in IT support allocations can help further sustain your IT program by delivering the support needed in a timely manner before frustration sets in about non-functioning devices and the shelving of technology resources because they don’t work. Investing in the people by building their IT capacity can provide immediate and long-term support.
Don’t forget to identify and consider the time and human resources it takes to build the following:
- Policies and procedures
- Budget alignment
- Communication and the management of technological change throughout the district
With future changes in the edtech landscape, there will need to be time devoted for updating these systems.
Keep the related and required supports for the existing technology top of mind as you plan forward. It is essential in reducing any costly surprises down the road.
Thinking About the Lifecycle of Technology
As you are assessing your current reality, it is important to include and consider the life expectancy of all aspects of hardware or support systems so that their replacements can be included in the long-range lifecycle plans.
- Consider how systems or hardware may be optimized—Do any of your current systems have features that you have not used or “turned on” that could be saving you time or money?
- Are there newer systems or hardware that offer streamlined solutions that you are now having one or two systems or pieces of hardware do?
- Do you have systems or hardware not being used as frequently as anticipated? If so, consider what would happen if they were not replaced in the next upgrade round.
Any of these tactics could help in reducing what is carried over to the next iteration of planning. Freed-up budget money could be reallocated and invested into longer-term sustainable and systemic improvements.
Repairs and Items that Need Replacement
Do you have a high number of hardware items in need of repair or replacement? Have device protection contracts lived up to your expectations?
- Is it easy to create claims?
- Is the time it takes to repair your items reasonable?
- Is the price of the coverage in line with the cost of the devices?
- Is there a good line of communication between your district and solution provider so that you may track the repairs on a device?
- Has your process for collecting broken devices, sending devices for repair, and returning devices to schools kept a working device in the hands of students daily?
Now is the time to evaluate your outsourced device protection plans to determine if the process has been beneficial and utilized. If it hasn’t been utilized, why not? By reviewing the data from your device repair solution provider, you should be able to determine whether the investment has proven to be effective. If it has not been effective, now is the time to explore why and to make decisions to continue the device protection program or move away from it.
Supply Chain Availability
Other considerations will be based on the current state of the global supply chain. While funds may be plentiful, foresight in vetting products and ordering in a timely manner is more important than ever. Production and delivery timelines may be much longer than districts have experienced in the past. Due to global shortages, school districts may need to work to extend the lives of their current hardware. Protection products like cases and screen protectors should be considered, as well as battery replacements, and the staff to execute the work may be necessary during times of shortage.
Will the hardware and supports you’re considering take up space? For instance, if students receive 1:1 devices, will you be collecting and storing them throughout the summer? Where will that be? Will it be secure and climate-controlled? Are you repairing district devices internally? If so, your team will need space for their work and for storage of parts. Their space should be large enough to store items for intake as well as for staging of items ready to be distributed back to the schools. Considerations such as tools needed to do repairs and electrical receptacles needed are all factors that are part of assessing current reality and defining future state needs.
It will take human power to support the devices, software, or professional learning. Will your technical staff be repairing devices or will you send devices out to be repaired? Is it more effective to have dedicated IT at each school? What kind of training do you need to provide the district and site-based team members to ensure that technology and systems are effective and efficient? Have you added Student Tech Teams to support the technical work? Even sending devices out for repair needs personnel for documenting issues, preparing the devices to be sent, and the receiving and distribution of repaired devices.
Your technology team most likely has a calendar of tasks that need to be completed for the start of school, during the school year, end-of-year procedures, etc. Is there time for your existing staff to take on new work that comes with retooling of a technology plan? Will you have many projects taking place at once? How will you manage the time and personnel it takes to execute each project? Resources may be rich, but when time is used inefficiently, the impact of those resources may be negated.
Identifying and documenting the resources required to support the hardware and software systems is critical. The result is a thorough, full-picture assessment of your technology landscape. Learn more in Total Cost of Ownership.