Shopping for educational technology can be overwhelming. Not every system will serve your district the way you need. Before making an investment, put time and forethought into a decision that will pay off longitudinally.
While technology needs have evolved, so too has school districts' approach to these critical purchases. Where school leaders may have paid more attention to just the price tag in the past, now schools and districts must focus on all facets of the investment: system, quality, and return on investment. These – far more than a dollar figure – will dictate the right choice for your equipment.
Additionally, as important as buying the right technology, so too is considering the opportunity to "upcycle" a district's older technology in which the funds received can be directly reinvested into future technology needs to ensure students, teachers, and staff remain with the highest-quality technology going forward.
The "best deal" isn't always a perfect fit with respect to buying education-based technology. Therefore, with almost a decade of assisting schools and districts purchase and upcycle their Apple devices, we're providing insight to ensure the next educational technology purchase is made purposefully.
- Think Long Term: Brand-new devices are constantly being brought to market; thus, it can be hard to cut through the marketing hype to find what will suit your long-term needs.
Forecast your tech needs for the coming years and ensure a purchase provides you with the capacity to operate efficiently until your next scheduled upgrade. Future proofing your fleet to account for an appropriate amount of inboard storage, RAM, and processor capacity is key.
Look at more than simply the short-term effect the price tag will have on your budget; the total cost of ownership is far more important than the upfront cost. If you have made the right investment, longitudinally, you will have spent less money than buying an inferior solution that you had to spend more money and human capital on.
- Pursue Quality. A solid device will retain value when you have finished using it. Quality will offer a considerably stronger return on investment than less-costly counterparts.
This is why devices such as MacBooks are popular choices for the education setting. These brand-name computers are in demand because they have long lifespans and will operate solidly for years.
Plus, devices with longer lifespans can be upgraded more frequently through upcycling. That means you'll be able to resell your equipment later, giving you capital to upgrade your technology purchase once again. Suddenly, the higher price tag on your initial investment no longer seems overwhelming.
- Assess Your Needs. The operating system of your device is what will make or break your relationship with the product.
Your district must rely on its operating system both now, and for years to come. Identify operating systems that have seamless integration and ease of use to keep everyone connected whether they're in the same room or across the county.
Remember that staff have very different user needs than students, but their expectations for their devices remain the same: At every level, your users require systems that won't lag while running multiple programs. They need to know that, no matter the workload, their computer won't overheat. They need a product that can stand up to eight-hour days, for many years at a time. To do that, you'll need fast processors, a robust operating system, high battery life and top-notch displays.
While being intentional with technology purchases is nothing new, it is now more important than ever as today's growth of the digital learning landscape puts more pressure on schools' technology than experienced in the past. Undoubtedly, doing so will help you find the solution that will serve your district for years to come.