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Dos and Don’ts for funding your school’s classroom technology program

 

students working with classroom technologyEconomic downturn has a far-reaching arm, one that’s forcing schools, like most companies, to reevaluate their classroom technology budgets. Students love technology—no, actually, they demand it—and many teachers and principals are equally as enthusiastic about it. They’ve seen how students respond to touch-based math apps that make a high-stakes subjects like math fun again. They’ve also seen how classroom technology like infographics and clickers can enhance lectures and how simple social networking tools like Twitter can help improve both student and parent engagement. But as you try to improve your school’s classroom technology infrastructure and stay within your budget, we thought principals might consider these Dos and Don’ts:

Dos and Don’ts for funding your school’s classroom technology program

Don’t necessarily give every classroom a technological overhaul
Smart classrooms are all the rave, but not all teachers crave projectors and ELMOs for their classroom. Resist fads. Resist the notion that more technology = more learning and higher test scores. Resist feeling that every classroom needs to be technology-equipped and SMART.

If, for example, Mrs. Snell and Mr. Ableton only show YouTube clips or give Power Point presentations in their classrooms once a week, why overhaul their classroom when they could probably get by sharing a portable media cart?

Before you make a blanket purchase, figure out what teachers can and can’t live without and ask them to write up a self-evaluation/proposal. In it, have them give you a detailed account of how they currently use technology in the classroom. Next, have them tell you how and why they would like to use new technology in the classroom; additionally, have them identify the hardware and software that they are interested in. 

Do make computers available outside of class for all students
Most students have at least one computer at home—and for those families with economic challenges, many schools have computer-loan programs. That’s great, but having a single computer for a family of three, four or five is sort of like having a single bathroom: there are going to be lines and fights over hot water. 

To ensure that students always have computer access, make it a priority to have a computer lab where students can go before and after class, maybe even on the weekends. Depending on student need, you might even try running an open-lab for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday. You might even experiment with an overnight laptop-loan system. Many schools have used this to great success.

Don’t stop getting creative
We’ve written about online fundraising sites in the past, but they’re worth bringing up again. When your budget is stretched thin, use the Internet and reach out to the global community. Car washes, fundraisers, silent auctions and bake-offs are great, but they provide a limited amount of exposure. When you use websites like DonorsChoose, AdoptAClassroom, GoFundMe and Chipin, your able to register your classrooms and write about the things students (or classrooms) need. Donors from around the world can search by location, school, teacher, etc, to find a cause that resonates with them. You, your teachers and their students can tell people to donate to their class or create a Facebook account—whatever it takes to get people to your website who will adopt your class.

Do reach out to local communities and businesses
When I was in high school, my biology teacher wanted to start a one-for-one program where every desk in his classroom was computer equipped. It was a private school with limited funding, so instead of appealing to the principal (or the parents), he reached out to as many local businesses as he could to see if they had any spare computers they’d like to donate. The response was overwhelmingly positive. In fact, one telemarketing company ended up donating 50 computers (along with hardware accessories like monitors, printers and keyboards). The only thing he had to do was enlist a helper (me) to carry the computers down a few flights of stairs. Not a bad deal, huh?

You might be interested in becoming an educational technologist; maybe you want to become a principal and are considering a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership. Perhaps you are interested in professional development or classroom technology and would like to earn a Master’s in the Art of Teaching. Whatever the case may be, Marygrove College has several online masters’ programs tailored to fit your needs—and your wallet!

 

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