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inspiring learning through technology

Doing IT on the cheap?

4 Reasons why doing IT on the cheap is an error of judgement

– by Terry Freedman

Terry FreemanI’ve read about schools beating the budget blues by building their own interactive whiteboards and computers. In my opinion these measures are a mistake, for the following reasons:

Cheap, DIY equipment often looks cheap
If one of your underlying aims is to engender in children a love and respect for education technology and its associated hardware and software, I don’t think you can do that by building things which look as if they’ve been constructed from bits and pieces you had lying around in your garage. After all, does the school music teacher think that, rather than spend a few hundred pounds on decent guitars, she could construct her own using bits of wood and a set of rubber bands?

Value for money not cost-cutting
Even in austere times such as the ones we’re experiencing now – in fact, especially in such times – the focus should be on value for money and cost-effectiveness rather than simply saving money. It’s a buyer’s market right now, so it should be possible to negotiate some excellent deals, either on price, warranty, or both.

Quality is paramount
One of the ways in which Thornleigh Salesian College, in Bolton, UK, cut down on its technical support issues (and associated costs) was to adopt a policy of buying only the very best in the first place. The kit lasted longer, and didn’t go wrong very often. You can read the case study I wrote about it if you like.

You store up budget problems for yourself in the long run
The reality of life in a budget-strapped situation is that if you can show you can achieve apparently the same thing with almost no money as you can with lots of money, the end result is likely to be that you’ll get less money the following year. It’s a difficult situation because you want to do the best by your pupils, and don’t want to be seen as the one member of staff breaking the school’s bank. However, in order to maintain investment and quality in the long term, you’d be far better off, in my opinion, lowering your ambitions and increasing the timescale to achieve your ICT-related vision, than to try to achieve the same amount in the same timescale by doing it on the cheap.