Allowing your technology to enhance your vision.

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Let’s face it Technology is an expensive part of any college budget. The question arises again and again, are we really getting our value out of our investment? Where is the return on investment for that Virtual Desktop project? After all college presidents are constantly wondering how they can manage their budget and you can’t do anything in technology for under a 100 grand. When budgets shrink, enrollment falls, or grants run out. Any one of many reasons that a educational institution may find themselves facing a budget shortfall.

If you read the Wall Street Journal’s article titled “Technology in Classrooms Doesn’t Always Boost Education Results, OECD Says” then you may agree it’s way too expensive compared to outcomes. Unfortunately, this may be true, but perhaps those who failed just spent the money in the wrong place.

I don’t disagree that in some instances you can spend millions and still not get results. Of course many times it’s not the technology that is not getting results, but the people running it. Buying technology for the sake of technology is just a waste of funds. Technology needs to act as an enabler and when you use it as an enabler, it does you get results. Technology also has to be utilized in a manner that helps make education easier.

I was in class with a Georgia Tech professor who had a catch phrase.

“Let the computers do the computer work and require the people to do the people work through your technology.”

I took it as build your systems in a manner so that your staff must follow the vision set forth by the administration. A college is not made up of just one department, there are quite a few others and they all matter and they must all work together or you don’t get very far. The more closely you can tie those processes through technology the more control you have over the process.

Not to mention linking the different departments together is going to give you reporting and insight like you have never seen before. Spending your money on areas that allow you to see the state across departments, makes the planning so much easier and then you will be able to see exactly where to spend your limited technology bucks.

The main reason the article can make its claims is the majority of technology expenditures are made by educational institutions go to the classroom. But they fail to invest in the infrastructure to support it.

Wait you may say, that is where it really gets expensive. Those servers, switches, and storage area networks will kill the budget and the student will never get any benefit. If you will subscribe to the possibility that your student retention and satisfaction begins at admissions, then you can see that this is just an area you can’t cut corners on. Not to mention that without the correct infrastructure, the computers/smartboards/wireless in the classroom can’t do their job effectively.

Invest in your infrastructure first and automate the portions of your process that can be automated. A lot of it can. Automation reduces the risk associated with people not doing what they need to do. This includes students, faculty, and staff. The correct automation in the correct areas will ensure the vision of the college is followed and those budget shortfalls happen less often. And the best part, when they do happen, the tech will show you where the bottleneck is at.

Its getting late, so I won’t be able to adequately cover the automation aspect in this post, so lets call this part 1. Part 2 coming soon, subscribe to make sure you do not miss it.

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