by Reena Taeput
My previous blog post about paperless classrooms did not address one underlying assumption. The move to paperless classrooms only occurs when educators have the technology available to do so.
Educational technology can only be present if there are funds available to purchase it in the first place. School budget limitations act as obstacles to the successful implementation of technology. What can schools do to circumvent this? Here are four factors to consider:
1. The Need for a Champion
Wise spending requires a leader to champion the cause (Stacey, 2013). This allows for careful planning based on the current situation in the school. Establishing leadership also helps to focus discussions around budget and contributes to change. A school administrator, for example, may be well suited for such a position since they are overseeing the teaching and learning in their building and would have a clear sense of where spending should occur.
2. Strategic Planning
The presence of a champion also paves the way for school teams to plan carefully how and where the money gets spent. Also, by working together, educators can assess the needs of a school site to determine what technology would best meet the needs of students. When planning how to spend technology funds, information from various vendors or sources should be collected. This action would enable school teams could make informed decisions on where money is spent by comparing prices. As a result, each dollar can be spent wisely.
In order to support the implementation of technology in schools, outside agencies can be sought to provide sponsorship or monetary grants. Non-profit organizations have the ability to impact great change in schools by offering to supply digital resources for classrooms (Zucker, 2009). Furthermore, this can be seen as a move to support future generations who need to have the necessary skills when they enter the workforce. So, there is a moral incentive for groups to help with funding educational technology.
4. Abandon the Dream of 1:1
Allowing each student to have their laptop or tablet provides students with direct access to technology (Liang et al., 2005). However, given the tight budgets that exist in public education, this is a fantasy that is not feasible. As such, educators need to find ways in which shared access is made possible. This way, students can collaborate by sharing devices. Therefore, a 1:1 ratio should not be considered a requirement for successful implementation. The focus is more on a quality education as opposed to the quantity of digital tools that are present (Saltmarsh, 2015).
The public school system could always use more money to support students. However, given the reality that budgets are not flexible, educators need to come up with different solutions or ways to optimize available funds and technology.
Liang, J.K., Liu, T.C., Wang, H.Y., Chang, B., Deng, Y.C., Yang, J.C., Chou, C.Y., Ko, H.W., Yang, S. and Chan, T.W. (2005), A few design perspectives on one-on-one digital classroom environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21: 181–189. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2005.00126.x
Saltmarsh, J. (2015, February). School funding and educational technology: less Is more.
Stacey, P. (2013). Government support for open educational resources: Policy, funding, and strategies. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 14(2).
“Spending wisely.” (2009, July). Technology & Learning, 12. Academic OneFile. Web.
Zucker, A. (2009, February). “The Role of Nonprofits in Educational Technology Innovation” . Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(1), pp. 37-47. DOI: 10.1007/s10956-008-9129-z