It’s hard not to notice the impact that technology has had on our daily lives, particularly across younger generations. Personal devices like smartphones and tablets have gone from being a luxury to a necessity — and this trend has pervaded the education sector as well.
With the right equipment and the right set-up, technology within educational institutions has the potential to dramatically improve both the teaching and learning experience. For students, it increases overall levels of engagement and interest, as they have naturally grown up as ‘digital natives’ and are therefore already fluent in using the latest devices. For teachers, it allows them to employ more creative methods of teaching and provides a more level playing field for all students in the class, with those that might struggle with conventional teaching methods suddenly able to express themselves in other ways.
Frankly, any educational institution that isn’t already embracing technology is doing a disservice to its students. And yet, while the overwhelming majority are taking advantage of it to some extent, many are failing to use it to its full potential or are acting too slowly in their digital transformation efforts, which consequently impacts the overall appeal of those institutions to prospective students.
In fact, several IT managers have recently expressed concerns to us, saying that a lack of modern technology across the institutions they work for is negatively impacting the views of prospective students.
This is not to say that institutions are not interested in utilising technology to its full extent; quite the opposite, in fact. The truth is that many are simply struggling from financial and logistical perspectives.
Historically, many schools, colleges and universities have lacked the budget necessary to purchase the technology they require, and this is still the case today. Technology itself has advanced at a tremendous rate, and yet the available budgets have not grown in direct proportion, which means reluctant compromises often have to be made.
Another issue is overall knowledge. Even in the rare instance that a college or university has the budget to purchase the very best equipment, many aren’t aware of what the best options are for their specific requirements.
The overarching solution for all institutions is in ‘payment-over-time’, a method that is perfectly suited to the modern-day landscape as the idea of ‘ownership’ becomes less popular across a number of industries. By determining exactly what technology is required and then taking out a tailored subscription from a digital services provider on a cost-per-device-per-month basis, the payment barrier is removed and institutions can successfully benefit from the full potential of technology. What’s more, they can benefit from the expert advice of suppliers who can enlighten them on the latest technological trends and developments.
The advantages of ‘payment-over-time’ solutions are noted both inside and outside of classrooms and lecture theatres. One-to-one schemes, which involve schools paying for and providing each pupil with a laptop, tablet or other personal device, have seen an increase in uptake over the last few years, but for many there is the unsurprising caveat of insufficient budgets. By taking advantage of a monthly service subscription, however, this financial constraint is eliminated.
Implementing technology across an institution is one thing, but making sure it’s continually refreshed and to the high standards of students is another thing entirely. Pupils simply will not want to go to college and use a three-year-old iPad if they can use a brand new one at home. This is another major advantage of using technology through a ‘payment-over-time’ model, as it allows institutions to treat it more like a rolling investment. Devices can be added and/or removed at will, and they can be upgraded over time for an optimal learning experience that continues to keep students satisfied.
Of course, any institution must consider the issue of compliance before taking out a ‘payment-over-time’ solution if they are to do so without any unwelcome repercussions. This is why solutions like the Schools Leasing Framework (SLF) have proved to be so popular. Developed in conjunction with local UK authorities, SLF offers a standard, pre-qualified and fully compliant solution that is tailored specifically to the needs of educational establishments, providing confidence and reassurance for many looking to take advantage of digital transformation.
As technology continues to advance and the standards of students continue to increase, it is down to all schools, colleges and universities to reap the full benefits of technology within classrooms through ‘payment-over-time’. With less of a financial burden to worry about, institutions can focus on what’s important: teaching students in a modern, engaging and effective way.
By Chris Labrey, Managing Director UK & IRL, Econocom