The upgrades and purchases that are necessary to modernize schools’ technology infrastructure are expensive, to put it lightly. IT departments navigate more than laptop purchases, printers, and internet service. Security monitoring, wireless hotspots, educational technology, and a never-ending collection of software subscriptions all contribute to mounting costs. With technology expenditures now consuming a large chunk of state and district budgets, it’s more important than ever that districts maximize the return on their investment.
An EdWeek Research survey from May of 2020 found that 59% of teachers had students with 1-to-1 device access, and that number surged during the pandemic, with thousands of more schools reaching 1-to-1 status. What devices are school districts purchasing? According to a 2018 survey, 78% of teachers were using interactive whiteboards or SmartBoards. 40 million students and educators use Chromebooks, and a smaller share use Windows and Mac devices in the classroom. Tablets are growing in popularity, so much so that 2-to-1 classrooms are becoming a viable option as students have daily access to both laptops and tablets.
Hands-on work with a tablet can supplement instructional materials presented on a student’s laptop or the classroom projector. But students won’t experience the full capabilities of these devices unless instructional resources designed with interactivity in mind are used. Too many older curriculum materials lack digital interactivity. Equally troublesome is the unnecessary complexity of some modern edtech offerings, with complicated logins and poorly designed interfaces giving students and teachers excuses to avoid their use. Without easy access to engaging lessons and activities, teachers slide back into old habits of monotonous lecture-and-quiz units, despite having next-generation resources at their disposal.
The number one way to ensure a rapid and enriching ROI is to enhance instruction by using existing and recently purchased technology. Boardworks fits in perfectly with district-wide tech integration. Too many existing curriculum bundles and collections of resources fail to make the most of the power students and teachers now have at their disposal with take-home technology. And then there’s distraction. If your team goes through the annual discussion of how to best keep kids off gaming or social media during school hours, it’s important to ask if the existing materials are engaging enough. Boardworks customizable lessons and interactive resources offer a different, more fulfilling path forward for students and teachers alike.
What’s Missing from Most Resources?
The greatest difference between Boardworks and the old way of piecing together a lesson is integration. Students and educators alike benefit from seamless transitions between instructional content and interactive practice activities. Teachers can focus on instruction rather than serving as ‘technology DJs,’ and students remain immersed in the lesson of the day without having to operate within multiple digital platforms.
There are hidden costs with the delayed implementation of technology resources. After a few years, some laptops, tablets, and software become outdated. For those skeptics who would rather ‘make it last’, consider the following cautionary tale. A district spent millions of dollars on the hardware needed to go one-to-one with devices for each student. The software they bundled with the computers, laptops, and tablets was new at the time of purchase, but by the time the district got around to using the devices, malware and other security breaches required a costly fix. In other words, a huge IT purchase became an even costlier expense before students and staff ever benefited from it. The district probably wouldn’t have been so discouraged by the upkeep expense if they had been using their devices and software as planned.
Roadblocks to Implementation
Why do some schools fail to use the technology they have invested in? Sometimes, it’s the tendency of decision-makers or teachers to stick to comfort zones. Often, deeper problems muddy technology initiatives. A common obstacle is the ease of access. Forgotten login credentials, a desktop full of barely used programs, and who knows what. Boardworks addresses this by eliminating login credentials for students. Once the content package is purchased, teachers and students can access customizable lessons and activities with ease. With Boardworks, there’s no steep learning curve. The intuitive design of Boardworks lessons and interactives enhances instructional time while resulting in fewer complaints of confusion among teachers and students alike.
With one-to-one technology comes an array of subscription services to consider. But at what cost? Some products, such as Boardworks, offer a one-time purchase option. Others, however, can become costly recurring bills. When choosing a curriculum product, decide if it makes sense to purchase an all-in-one turn-key product or smaller packages of material. In most cases, a bundle of standards-aligned interactive lessons provides the most immediate impact.
Does the content teachers are using align with your state’s standards? Not all online resources were created with every state in mind. Most were not. Resources from online marketplaces, Pinterest or Google may not cover the standards that educators in your state are responsible for teaching. Although those materials provide a convenient quick fix, they can have hidden costs and lack consistency and integrity.
Make the Most of Investments in Tech with Turnkey Solutions
There are reasons for the rise of educational technologies in and out of the classroom. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the nation had been working their way towards one-to-one device accessibility for all. Computers and internet access offer benefits that can completely transform a student’s educational experience. Now that technology is at the forefront of teaching, educators can’t afford to misuse digital resources. Leverage existing technology to enhance instruction and empower students with Boardworks, a turnkey suite of interactive, customizable curriculum materials that are ready for action from day one.