Sourcing student devices can be hard enough, even without the supply-chain disruptions of a global pandemic.
In March 2020, school leaders across the globe scrambled to purchase devices for each of their students. In an effort to launch high-quality remote learning programs, school leaders knew they’d need to scale their existing student-device ratios quickly. The only problem? On top of the collective “mad dash” to secure Chromebooks and other student-facing technology, lockdowns and other pandemic-related restrictions severely disrupted global supply chains. With demand up and supply down, school leaders and their students were caught in the middle, forced to go the extra mile to ensure each student wound up—one way or another—with their own device.
But even as the public health outlook improves, school leaders still face challenges selecting, sourcing, and managing their student device inventories. Without the requisite systems in place, a beautifully organized fleet of Chromebook carts can quickly fall into disarray, threatening not only the school’s substantial financial investment but also, more importantly, students’ and teachers’ ability to take advantage of the school’s technology.
Below, we outline several ways CTS supports its school partners in managing their student technology inventories and explain how a combination of intensive device tracking and forward planning can help schools make the most of their technology investments.
It’s not enough to just source devices; schools also need a system for managing their technology inventory.
Once a school leader has purchased devices for her students, she’ll need a clear system for managing her technology inventory. Apart from ensuring Chromebook carts are organized and distributed properly, she’ll also want to work with her school leadership to create a “golden source” of student device information.
Within this “golden source”—be it a spreadsheet or Google Doc—the school leader’s goal should be able to determine the status of every device in her school building with just a few clicks. If classroom “A” has three Chromebooks in need of repair, the administrator should be able to look at the “golden source” and see that information reflected. If one student’s laptop has been swapped with another’s, that change should be noted by the student’s teacher.
Keeping track of where student devices are in the school building and whether those devices are working properly is key to maintaining control of the school’s technology inventory. Each Chromebook that goes missing or un-repaired risks wasting scarce financial resources and compromises the school’s ability to use technology to impact classroom instruction.
As summer approaches, schools should take stock of their current devices and identify any inventory gaps.
Once the school year begins and administrators successfully navigate the first several weeks of instruction, it’s tempting for them to take their eyes off of the school’s technology inventory. But as summer approaches and school leaders begin thinking about the new school year, it’s important to keep technology-related decision-making on their radars.
For example, by consulting their “golden source” for student device tracking, school leaders should be able to gauge how many Chromebooks they’ll need to purchase for the following school year. With that information in mind, they can create an accurate technology budget and determine what other instructional priorities they’ll be able to fund. Guesswork in the educational technology space can cause schools to waste thousands of dollars a year. Keeping close tabs on the school’s technology inventory can prevent such waste from occurring.
Maintaining a “golden source” to track student devices can help make the most of a school’s existing technology inventory as a school scales.
Finally, as schools add grade levels or expand enrollments, keeping close tabs on their technology inventory can help leaders put their current device counts to work. Suppose it turns out, for instance, that the school purchased more Chromebooks than necessary for a particular school year. In that case, leaders can parlay that surplus into the new grade level’s inventory, saving money in the process. Likewise, knowing the number of devices needed for the school’s existing grade levels can help leaders forecast the amount they can expect to spend on technology for each new cohort of students.
At CTS, we help source and manage student devices so schools can accomplish their unique missions.
Our team has decades of experience in the educational technology space and has worked with more than 60 schools across the United States to make the most of their technology investments. We work collaboratively with school leaders to source and manage their student devices so that teachers can leverage the school’s technology investments to support classroom instruction and student achievement. By effectively managing their student devices, school leaders can make better use of their financial resources and ultimately impact more students. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your school accomplish its unique mission.