At Pine Cove, we often find ourselves explaining to a school district why they need to upgrade their IT infrastructure. The technology landscape in schools today is being shaped by mobility and devices. Cloud applications and mobile devices are being used in just about every school district we visit. Many times we are asked to assess a district’s network and provide a proposal for getting them “up to speed.” We realize that technology is not cheap and that there are no silver bullets. You cannot simply throw a bunch of money at upgrading everything and not expect to be in the same position in a few years. Investing in technology is more of a process than a single event. However, if you plan correctly and start on a path of sustainability through device rotation schedules and proper budgeting, you will serve your district well for the foreseeable future.
When we talk to schools about technology, we try to help them realize why it is important to the 4 major stakeholder groups: students, teachers, administration, and parents/community members.
Students: Students want to use learning methods and technologies that are relevant to them. We can all agree that kids today are way more technically adept than most of us old folks are. They expect to use the same devices and methods for learning that they use everywhere else in life.
Teachers: Teachers tend to fall into a few different categories. Some like to teach using the traditional pencil, paper, and the chalkboard. Some like to use technology, but were not formally trained on how to incorporate it into the classroom. Most new teachers entering the workforce use technology on a daily basis and were trained this way when they received their teaching degrees. The simple fact is that most teachers want to use the latest tools and have current technology available. Districts must realize that new teachers entering the workforce will expect them to have the latest technology available and integrated in their curriculum. This technological advancement will weigh heavily on a district’s ability to attract good talent.
Administration: Administrators know that attracting the best teachers is in their best interests. They want to create an environment that is relevant and up to the latest standards and trends. Attracting the best staff and increasing scores are probably two of the biggest goals for a school district. We believe having a current and sustainable technology infrastructure helps achieve both goals.
Parents/Community Members: From my experience, most parents and community members want their kids to have the latest and greatest tools when it comes to their education. If you don’t think that is the case, just ask a realtor what one of the top factors all parents want to know when looking for a place to live: how the schools rank. I can promise that technology plays a vital role in a school’s ranking.
There is no way to slow the constant process of advancing technology. We use it in our everyday lives, from constantly using our smartphones to ordering food on an iPad in restaurants. There is no denying that schools are on the same fast track to advanced technology in education, and those that aren’t will quickly be left behind. Money can be a major issue for some districts, and Pine Cove recognizes this. That’s why we have turned to long-term budgeting and working to make sure schools get what they need at a better cost.