In today’s educational environment, ever-tightening budgets mean that school district leaders must make every penny count. At the same time, extraordinary new technologies are being developed that can enhance student learning, increase parental involvement, boost teacher capabilities, and streamline data processes.
Before technology directors can take the leap on a particular technological tool, they must first ask themselves: What kind of return on investment (ROI) will this produce for my district?
Here are 6 tips for schools to get the best technology return on investment:
- Define ROI for your district. There are the financial returns, such as cost savings, funding gains, and efficiency/productivity improvements, which can often be calculated or predicted depending on the product. Then there are the educational returns, such as increased student achievement, more robust parental engagement, higher attendance and graduation rates, higher staff retention rates, and lower dropout rates. Those may or may not have a specific financial savings component but still hit right at the heart of a school district’s mission and vision.
- Be strategic. Any large investments you make in technology should align with your district’s short-term and long-term strategic plans. Specific goals within those plans might include preparing students for competitive 21st century careers, increasing collaboration with the larger community, or prioritizing more informed teaching through the collection and distribution of data. Research technologies that will help your district reach these goals.
- Look for customization and adaptability. Technologies that can be utilized in a variety of ways and by a variety of stakeholders will produce the biggest financial – and educational – bang for your buck. Whenever possible, avoid extra costs by choosing products that are customizable and can grow and adapt along with technological innovations. Those qualities, as well as the ability to integrate with current systems, are among the reasons technology directors say they chose PowerSchool’s Student Information System.
- Seek to simplify, not complicate. Students, teachers, administrators and parents don’t need bells and whistles for the sake of bells and whistles. They need tools that help streamline communication and data collection in a quicker and easier way. Be sure about your specific needs and how a new product will solve a problem rather than create a new one.
- Make a plan. Next, decide how you’ll implement. The only way to achieve real results is if the product is used consistently and to its fullest potential. That’s why professional development for teachers and support staff who are new to the technology will be vital. For technologies like student information systems that are used not only by school and district staff but also by parents, on-going communication with all stakeholders is vital.
- Check in regularly. Survey teachers and staff to determine whether they have received enough training and support as they begin using the new technologies. Send parents both printed out instructions for any systems they will use, and consider offering 15- or 30-minute in-person workshops where staff members can walk parents through the downloading and accessing process. Send an online survey to parents at the end of the school year to gauge both usage and usefulness.
Strategic planning for the purchase and implementation of new technologies in your district will go a long way toward both financial savings and increased student achievement.