No matter how many years’ experience you have in education, taking on a subject lead can be a daunting task. Given the mishmash of roles and responsibilities, IT lead has to be one of the most daunting of all.
Perhaps you’re purely focused on your responsibility for guiding your school on the subject of IT and what to offer students. But maybe you’ve also been roped into choosing which technology the school should introduce into its classroom next year and how to distribute funds with maximum effect for every department.
It’s no simple ask. But you can make things easier by knowing where to focus your efforts. Read on for our round up three top priorities for a primary school IT lead.
A common ask of an IT lead will inevitably be to keep the technology your school uses up to date and up to its job of serving teachers and pupils. This doesn’t just mean staying up to date by purchasing the latest equipment; you can also make sure your students enjoy the latest advancements in technology by simply introducing new software and keeping an eye on the latest ways of working with the existing systems too.
For example, if your school has already introduced touchscreens into lessons you may be able to take things further still by taking advantage of associated cloud capabilities.
Cloud technology can be used to easily share and store files on linked equipment, making it simple for any teacher connected to the network to teach from a shared file they’ve created at home, or even to send students a file they’ve collaborated on in the classroom with their peers, allowing students to jump in on from their own devices as part of their homework.
Adding specialist touchscreen software, like CleverLynx, offers another jump forward in the potential functionality and use of existing hardware. The best touchscreen software is designed to make it easier than ever for teachers to annotate, highlight or screen capture work during the lesson. Many even offer a range of content to streamline lesson plans.
So keep up to date with the latest updates and developments in both the technology itself and its application with new teaching practices and you’ll already have a great deal to offer your colleagues in your role as IT lead.
If you’ve been tasked with shopping for the latest devices, be careful not to get swept away by the wide range of advanced education equipment now on offer, particularly when a now bustling market is pushing prices lower than ever before.
Consider the price and value of a new purchase when exploring new technology options for your school. Trust us on this one; you’ll impress your head in the long run if you spend the time researching what will actually work for your team, rather than jumping at the cheapest option that nobody ends up using in the end.
Of course, what is good value for one school is a wasted expense for another, so think carefully about the connectivity requirements you have for a new touchscreen, the kinds of devices it’s likely to be connected with, whether your team will use cloud storage functionality – or be encouraged to do so in the future.
It’s what actually works for your school, your pupils and your colleagues’ teaching style that counts.
A good example of this would be the comparison between touchscreens and laser projectors, both of which can make an excellent addition to a classroom but one or the other could be next to useless in the wrong scenario.
In the case of touchscreens, their relatively small size, in-built technology and ease of networking make them ideal for smaller primary school classrooms or breakout areas. However, the restriction in size could be a problem in larger classrooms, class sizes or assembly halls.
Projectors, on the other hand, are a great way to extend the screen size for larger classrooms and with the advent of laser technology, they’re a low-maintenance option for schools of all sizes. You do of course, lose a level of interactivity by saying goodbye to the touch function but you could always use an interactive whiteboard.
Touchscreen prices are still notably higher than entry-level projectors but, in our opinion, offer a significantly better touch experience, visibility in all ambient light and resolution clarity than a projector/interactive whiteboard combo. If you can prove their use in your school, it’s worth putting the case forward to get the budget.
If you look at one thing in your first year as IT lead, make it connectivity. You and your colleagues can quite likely achieve a huge amount simply by putting your existing technology to better use – and connectivity is the key here.
Can students connect their iPads or tablets to the classroom touchscreen or projector to share their own projects? Does everyone have the right connectors and adaptors they need to make this as simple as possible? Would wireless connectivity make this even more straightforward and thus encourage greater use of the existing technology? What about the cloud – can teachers share materials and access their own materials from different locations?
Little changes to facilitate behaviour like this can make a big impact on how effective your school’s technology really is.
A lot of modern touchscreens allow students and teachers to connect their own mobile devices in a matter of seconds to facilitate quick and easy content sharing.
Some touchscreens, like the InFocus J Touch INF6502WBAG take things even further providing Access Point mode to allow students to connect and show their device directly without the need to access the wider school network and compromise security.
Education technology doesn’t need to be overwhelming. If you would like to discuss your school’s requirements with our experts, call us today on 0800 073 0834 or send us a message.