Sunday, November 15, 2009

7 Ways to Move Your Technology Program Forward When Everything Else is Frozen!

Some of our budgets have been cut back or frozen. Some of our planned capital expenditures have been postponed. Some of us have lost staff or anticipated staff expansions have been put on hold. We're living through some pretty trying times but it doesn't mean that we can't use this time to move forward! Here are 7 things you might want to consider.

1. Use the time to step up staff development.

Since we aren't spending our time buying and installing, we've focused on staff development. It is a great time to work with teachers on their technology skills and curriculum integration. We had already established minimum technology competencies, now we are offering expanded technology training to help our faculty achieve them.

2. Consider sharing budgets with other departments.

Technology is a tool to help other departments achieve their goals. Incurred costs are inevitable. Why not consider sharing budgets with other departments in order to foot the bill? For example, our marketing department wanted additional space on a server to hold multimedia for the website. Since we did not have the money in our budget, they were willing to share the cost for this upgrade.

3. Negotiate and Re-negotiate with your valued vendors.

We all spend a great deal of time developing vendor relationships. We work hard to keep the relationships mutually beneficial. The fact is, we want to keep our vendors and our vendors want to keep us. Some honest talk and negotiation can result in some significant cost savings.

4. Shop better.

This is pretty simple. Be willing to wait for deals. Look for the "2 for 1" sales. Sometimes replacement parts can be found at eBay or other discount sites. Explore pilot programs. Patience is a virtue!

5. Look for ways that your technology program can actually be used to cut costs.

Have power saving and life extending strategy discussions with your providers. Our faculty has embraced Moodle as a way to communicate and save costly printing costs. Turn off the color printers (or at least monitor them.) Encourage and train your faculty to utilize Personal Learning Networks, webinars, and Skype in order to cut down on meeting travel and conference costs. Enabling cost saving measures keeps you in good stead with your finance department.

6. Find ways to use what you have better.

Faculty laptops are generally taken out of commission after four years. We re-imaged them with a lighter load, added new batteries and turned 24 of them into an additional laptop cart for student use. (Linux as an operating system is worth considering)

7. Plan better for future purchases.

We've had a laptop/tablet program for 10 years in our upper school. We are in the process of expanding our 1:1 program to our middle school. We will lower costs significantly by going with Netbooks. We are also planning to reduce the number of textbooks purchased by using online resources.

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