Mark Anderson is a former teacher and school leader and now award-winning author, blogger, speaker, thought-leader and trainer around all things to do with teaching, learning and effective use of technology in the classroom.
Mark firmly believes that education is a force for good and under his moniker of the ICT Evangelist he strives to demonstrate how technology is something that can help to make the big difference to the lives of learners and teachers alike.
He’s taking over as our guest editor over the summer with a series of blog posts highlighting the great things you can do with technology so that it can have the impact it so rightly should!
One of the most difficult things a school has to focus on is achieving value for money for its learners. In these times of shrinking budgets, the largest slice of your budget will always be the salaries of your staff. Additionally, whether you are an independent or state school regardless of whether you are a Primary or Secondary school or a College, it is incumbent upon us to get a return for our investments. To help with this and quite rightly so, when it comes to human resources, we use quality assurance strategies such as performance management to ensure that there is a high level of efficacy in the work that all school stakeholders undertake. The best schools work closely with their teachers to support and develop their professional standards to ensure they are the best they can be for the learners in the classroom.
The second most expensive thing covered by a school budget often comes down to the technology that is used in the school. It has always seemed strange to me however that when it comes to things such as technology in a school budget, such care and attention aren't always given such focused inquiry. Just as you will seek a return from your investment in your human resources, equally you should seek to get a good return from your investment in the technology you choose to purchase to support teaching and learning in the classroom.
What should you look for?
Ease of use and maintenance are high on the check list for schools. The cost of maintaining technology, particularly around that of support staff, can be large. Ensuring that what you choose to purchase is well supported by the companies you buy from is also important. You will want quick and easy set up times and you'll want to make log on times quick and simple too to avoid any loss of learning time in the classroom. You'll also want the tools available on your devices to be proven to have an impact on learning and standards. You will probably too look for technology where colleagues can be well supported with their professional learning in using that technology to ensure that they are both confident and competent in their use of it in the classroom. Far too many schools I visit have expensive technology hidden away in cupboards never being used. Sometimes it's not even inside cupboards, it's the interactive displays in classrooms that are only ever used to display things where the interactivity is never used. Making sure that you think carefully about the money you spend with your school budget has never been so important.
Luckily, Microsoft have been working hard with educators and school leaders from around the world to create packages to ensure that both the hardware and software that comes into schools provide efficacy in all of areas mentioned above. Their 'Affordable devices for education' guides showcase how you can make Microsoft work for you in your school.
With options for Windows 10 or Windows 10 S and software for learning, collaboration, creativity, computing such as Minecraft: Education Edition, PowerPoint, OneNote, Paint 3D, LEGO® Education WeDo® 2.0 and Microsoft Teams, you'll be well placed to make impacts straight away. Most devices come with multiple input options too so not only can you use these devices as a laptop with a keyboard but you can also use them in tablet mode. This means the devices are truly mobile and can use the touch screen features such as inking to support lots of different teaching and learning activities in lots of learning spaces. Many of them also come with a stylus to help cut down the overall cost of purchase.
Workload, wellbeing, efficiency and the core business of all teachers, teaching and learning, are all supported by the superb offers available to schools; all you have to do is check out the guide which relates to your phase and you're away. Don't take my word for it though, have a look at their guides available here. Regardless of the phase in which you work, with prices starting from around £250 per device, Microsoft have a safe, easy to setup, secure and affordable solution to fit with your budget.
Follow Mark Anderson on social now!
Twitter > @ICTEvangelist
Instagram > @ICTEvangelist
Facebook > /theictevangelist
LinkedIn > /themarkanderson
Blog > ictevangelist.com