5 Factors to Consider When Selecting Classroom Technology – EdTech Magazine: Focus on K-12

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Debbie Tschirgi is Director of Educational Technology Programs and the DigitalEdge Purchasing Program at Educational Service District 112 in Vancouver, Wash.

Debbie Tschirgi is Director of Educational Technology Programs and the DigitalEdge Purchasing Program at Educational Service District 112 in Vancouver, Wash.
Congratulations: Your school has established a common vision for educational technology, and all stakeholders agree that the use of information and communication technology is critical to the mission. Now it’s time to identify the technology that will help your organization realize its vision.
Consider these five factors when selecting classroom technology:
Your school improvement plan is fundamental to the selection of classroom technology. There are some great solutions for improving performance and achieving outcomes. For example, graphing calculators and probeware can visually enrich lessons and provide immediate feedback in math and science courses, and teachers of reading can use document cameras, interactive whiteboards, software and websites for improving literacy skills.
Consider your funding sources and their availability. A one-time allocation of funds requires the selection of technology with a long lifespan. But technology can be replaced more often if funds are available on a recurring basis. Don’t forget to budget for professional development, technology support, infrastructure, retrofitting classrooms and installations.
All students, staff and leaders must have “robust and reliable access to current and emerging technologies and digital resources.” Universal access can be achieved with an infrastructure that brings connectivity to all learning spaces, or by equipping all learning spaces with document cameras and projectors.
Consider the technology capacity of your classrooms. For a 1-to-4 computer-student ratio or a notebook initiative, make sure there is enough real estate and electrical capacity in the classroom. Also, check the location of electrical outlets; if computers are crowded along a single wall, students won’t have room to work in small groups.
If you are considering projectors and document cameras or interactive whiteboards, how will you arrange the cables so students don’t trip? Is there room on the front wall for an interactive whiteboard? These issues require that thought be given to the impact on instructional classroom best practices, varied teaching styles, traffic patterns and safety — in addition to budgetary considerations.
Without a large grant or technology levy, sustainability may be the prevailing factor when selecting classroom technologies. The following is a list of indicators for sustainability:
EXPLORE: Find the resources you need to support the future of learning.
IT spending estimates peg U.S. educational institutions at $56 billion by 2012, according to Compass Intelligence, an IT consultancy and market research firm. This year, education spending will likely exceed $47 billion, a 2.5 percent increase from 2008.
Most of the money is expected to go toward telecommunications, collaborative technologies and outsourced IT services. Another top expenditure is wireless technology: About 35 percent of all K–12 schools were using wireless by the end of 2008. The market for Internet and electronic learning tools is projected to grow to $12.9 billion by 2012, Compass Intelligence reports.
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