- First, ensure that educational priorities inform ICT budget decisions. The ICT budgeting process needs to be “bottom up” and demand driven. It needs to start with teachers want to be able to do in the classroom to facilitate learning. If teachers are demanding it, they are far more likely to use it in the classroom and that is most likely to have a positive impact on pupil learning.
School leaders need to draw together teachers’ ideas and then determine budget priorities. For example, if teachers want to stream videos from the Internet or have classes making films in lessons, then the demands on the network will be significant and will establish a very different set of priorities for ICT development than, say, playing film clips from a DVD. It takes Senior Leaders to decide whether or not the educational value of teachers streaming videos or having pupils making films is lessons is worth the investment in the ICT network infrastructure.
- Secondly, be a follower rather than a leader. Schools would be wise to resist the temptation to run after the next technological advance, just because it is new. I am writing this article in MS Word 2003 – has my school really suffered from not upgrading to Office 2007 or 2010? [We took the view that we would migrate to Office 2010 in Summer 2011, when the ICT team have time to do the upgrades and the latest version is debugged.] With ICT it is tempting to try to be in vanguard of change – but it is ultimately impossible – and very expensive. It is very easy to be sold the idea that Tablet PCs or iPads or 3-D Projection are going to transform education – they may well make a difference – but only time will tell. It is very unlikely that there is a significant competitive advantage in being ahead of the game. It is often better to be a follower, rather than a leader when it comes to ICT investment.
- Thirdly, invest in dead certainties. The ICT world is fast changing, and thus some ICT decisions are difficult to make. However the direction of travel is clear: teachers and pupils are likely always to need a fast, ubiquitous connection to the Internet. A school that invests in a high-speed network infrastructure [cabling, switches and servers], good WIFI and the fastest possible Internet connection that it can afford is not likely to be wasting its money.