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From Panic to Prepared – 5 EDTech Planning Tips We Learned From The COVID-19 Buying Season

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Last year, when learning went from the classroom to home virtually overnight, making sure every student had some sort of device was the primary concern. No time for extensive research or carefully weighing the pros and cons – those orders had to be placed and fulfilled as fast as possible! As the dust settled, and kids headed back to class, the world of EdTech was transformed. But now that there’s time to reflect, it’s important to consider the lessons we learned from this scramble – and how we can apply those lessons to realize the potential of educational technology.

TOP 5 EDTECH PLANNING TIPS

  1. Locate all your previous deployment devices
  2. Consider the accessories that would augment and enhance your students’ technology experience
  3. Discuss order and delivery times with your supplier
  4. Prioritize connectivity in your students’ devices
  5. Collect input from all parties involved

FIRST, WHERE DO YOU STAND?

Hopefully, a huge disruption like COVID-19 won’t happen again any time soon, but preparation is key. Because a lot of big decisions were made very fast last year, the first step of planning for the future is getting a full accounting of where you came from. This step is essential to the planning process every year, but it’s more important than ever today.

Let’s start with the basics – where are the devices? If that sounds silly, think back on the hectic struggle to secure and deploy devices as fast as possible. If tagging or logging was missed, now is a good time to catch up, make sure records are up to date, and track down devices.

Thanks to the time crunch, getting your preferred devices wasn’t always an option. Available was better than perfect! Get feedback from teachers and students – how are the new devices working in the classroom, and how did they work from home? You might be surprised by the results, and that information could significantly change your planning outlook.

DEPLOYMENT DOESN’T END AT DEVICES

Devices are the star of the EdTech world, but your deployment goes beyond laptops and tablets. Federal dollars can be used quite flexibly, so consider the accessories that would augment and enhance your students’ technology experience.

First, new fleets need to survive a few more years before they are replaced, and great protection is the answer. Cases from Gumdrop are designed to meet the needs of students of all ages, from extra durable cases for young learners to sleek and slim cases for older kids. They come in a range of price points, so districts can find the solution that works for their student population and budget.

Headphones that are classroom-ready are also a great way to give students the tools they need. Gumdrop headphones are built with flexible headbands, chew-proof cords, and sanitizable ear pads, not to mention great sound quality! Gumdrop’s accessories are rugged and durable, with features like pry-resistant keys and defenses against spills.

CAN YOUR VENDOR KEEP UP?

Can you believe that some schools are STILL waiting on backorders for devices and accessories? Of course, the industry faced unprecedented demand and supply chain issues, but when it comes to childrens’ educations, there are no excuses. Even if you were lucky enough to get your orders on time, it’s important to vet your vendor for future on-time delivery. Contact your supplier to discuss current inventory and delivery times. Ask about any expected order delays. At Gumdrop, our inventory is always ready to go, so you can order with confidence and make sure devices survive their first day of school!

CONNECTIVITY COUNTS

One often overlooked issue is home connectivity for students. Many areas just don’t have access to fast enough internet speeds to support things like video chatting or streaming. In fact, up to 42 million Americans don’t have broadband access. This creates a digital divide between students who have more resources than others.

So how can schools address this? Now that many students are back in the classroom, this problem should not be considered solved. If student populations don’t have reliable home internet, school-provided hotspots and other solutions can help get them up to speed.

This type of research may not have factored into your EdTech planning cycle in the past. However, it’s vital to find out if your student population has access to the internet at home so you can consider what you’ll need to buy to address the issue.

ALL HANDS ON DECK

Huge deployments are a LOT of work, and everyone has their role to play. From installing device cases to running software updates, your staff plays a huge rule in EdTech rollouts. Make sure those on the ground have a voice in the planning process.

Check in with your IT departments. What kinds of devices and software do they think is the most secure and easy to maintain? How about your teachers? Do they have the practical tools they need, like charging stations that can fit all of their student devices? What have they noticed about the way their students use their devices, both good and bad? By listening to all of these voices, you can get a much fuller picture and plant the seeds of your future successful deployments.

MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER

Are you planning to attend the 2022 Future of Education Technology Conference in Orlando this January? The schedule includes many important discussions about assessing the past and moving forward. Gumdrop will be at the conference, and we can’t wait to reconnect! Stop by our booth and check out hands-on demos of our cases.

Not going to the show? Talk to an expert today. The future of EdTech has arrived. Let’s build it together.

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