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March 18, 2015

Article featured in Public School Review

The Surprising Way Schools are Saving Money on Ed Tech

With technology advancing and changing faster than ever, how can educators and schools keep up? The answer: Refurbished ed tech.

 

The Emergence of Refurbished Ed Tech
Teachers and administrators are turning to refurbished educational technology for better learning experiences on a reduced budget. Refurbished machines save time and money, and gives instructors a wider range of teaching options for students. We paneled some of the top minds in education to learn about the impact refurbished tech is making on education.

 

“Refurbished technology is a great way to get more devices into the hands of students at significant cost savings,” says Robert Baker, CEO and Co-Founder of certified ed tech provider Mac to School. Teachers need the proper tools to interact with their students in a technology-driven society.

The Benefits of Refurbished Ed Tech: Savings
School systems across the nation run on tight budgets. While per-student spending remains at an adequate level in select districts, it can hardly cover the cost of new devices for every child, especially with rapid advances in digital media. Bob Nelson, Superintendent of the Chawanakee School District in California, notes the benefits of saving time as well as money. “What are the benefits of refurbished ed tech… identical machines, thus simplifying the 1:1 environment for purposes of training and support.”

 

His own experience of working with identical devices at the district level over the past six years has given him keen insights into the savings refurbished equipment provide.

 

How Ed Tech Has Changed: Access and Efficacy

 

In an age when year-old devices are ancient, how does refurbished technology keep up with advancing standards? Surprisingly well it seems. Companies have seen the need for refurbished ed tech rising and have quickly moved to fill in the gap.

 

Matthew Lynch, Dean of the Syphax School of Education, Psychology, and Interdisciplinary Studies, says EdTech is one of the fastest growing sectors of the entire technology industry. “Investments in education technology companies nationwide tripled in the last decade, ballooning to $429 million in 2011 from $146 million in 2002, according to the National Venture Capital Association.”

 

Providers are looking for new ways to improve the learning process through mobile apps and classroom management software. Waves of students will soon see the benefits as learning seamlessly flows between school and home. As messaging capabilities become more usable and universal, teachers and parents have better communication options.

 

Robert Baker says a tech-agnostic classroom that embraces all systems and devices benefits everyone. “Educators are becoming more creative on how they purchase and implement technology for their classrooms. 1 to 1, BYOD, flipped learning and mixed platform environments have all created unique demands for devices to make these programs work. By having a mixed platform environment of Apple, Chrome, Windows, new and certified devices, educators are able to pick the right tool for the right job.”

 

Rayfil Wong, CEO of Professorsavings.com, says the changing landscape of media consumption has spilled into the education sector. “Edtech has changed since 60% of Internet consumption in the USA is mobile and in video format.”

 

Can Schools Integrate New Technology?

 

Despite these significant advances, administrators across the country know the enemy of progress is pain. Like any implementation of new technology, the transition process requires a learning curve. Many see this as a reason to stick with the old, but proponents of refurbished tech are steadfast, maintaining that this technology is a means to upgrade learning platforms without prohibitive costs compounding the problem of training time.

 

Robert Baker is one of those proponents. “Looking at ways to save on [technology] (like using certified pre-owned hardware) can free up much needed funds that can go directly towards implementing and training on the new technology.”

 

Bob Nelson stresses how important it is to not become short-sighted after hitting initial challenges with new tech. “Every aspect of integrating new technology balances excitement and new opportunity with inherent gaps in implementation. Invariably, even the best roll outs have a hard time managing ALL of the hardware, software, network, training, and personnel elements. These setbacks, if big enough, can cause naysayers both within the school setting or out in the community at large, to work on derailing an integration project.”

 

To offset this upfront investment, refurbished tech allows schools to be flexible in their decision-making, and change course if needed. If one hardware-software platform is not having the desired effect, they can simply go in a new direction without an exorbitant price tag. “The key, I believe, is to design the best implementation plan that a team can must, and then just move through the implementation process in small steps—evaluating and re-adjusting as you go.”

 

Concerns with Refurbished Tech
Aside from the installing of new learning platforms, the obvious concern is over the durability of the devices. Budgeters do not want to shell out hundreds of dollars on technology that does not hold up to the constant wear and tear a school year brings. Matthew Lynch insists there are plenty of reputable companies out there in refurbished tech. He urges schools to rely on safety nets, like warranties and customer service, to ensure no money is wasted on a sub-par product.

 

Robert Baker insists upon going with the right vendor.n“Using a quality vendor with a great service warranty is the best way to get the most value out of refurbished technology. It’s not just about who has the lowest cost, but how will these devices be supported going forward.”

 

Conclusion
The end goal is to refurbish education as a whole. Being stuck with outdated devices provides the easy excuse of sticking with outdated practices. New technology can reinvigorate the learning environment, imbue teachers with a renewed ability to interact with their students, and keep students engaged.

 

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