How schools can future-proof their IT spend

Avoid the temptation to spend money replacing old computers, says Crucial’s Senior Product Manager, Jonathan Weech

By Jonathan Weech, Senior Product Manager, Crucial

With technology developing at breakneck pace, it’s vital that schools keep up the pace to help students learn and develop with the best tools available. However, with the cost pressures most schools are under, this can be difficult to achieve, making future-proofing purchases vital to make the most of tight budgets.

Gartner says that UK schools collectively spend £900m per year on technology, whilst the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) says that schools had £619m budgeted for ICT. With such amounts being spent, it’s important that schools future-proof their purchases, including computers and laptops being used in the classroom.

BESA found that in 2015, UK schools had 1.3m desktop computers and 840,000 laptops. However, the Commons science and technology committee said an audit of IT equipment in schools found that 22% of it is ineffective. This means that schools could potentially be sitting on 286,000 computers and 185,000 laptops that need some TLC.

Whilst it’s tempting to just get rid of those ineffective machines and purchase new ones, there are better solutions available for schools, so as not to lose assets and waste money on replacing them, only for them to slow down 18-24 months later. Instead, schools should act to make obsolete technology fresh again.

Shrinking education budgets make it a challenge to deliver the computer speed and reliability that students and teachers need to run basic applications like Microsoft Office, as well as run intensive coding applications, virtual reality and collaborative learning programmes. Instead of spending money on expensive new computers, you can instantly increase system speed, save money, and get more years out of current computers by upgrading them with new memory and replacing hard-drives with solid-state drives (SSDs).

Upgrading school computers is easy to do and doesn’t require any special skills, so anyone can do it

Upgrading school computers is easy to do and doesn’t require any special skills, so anyone can do it. At just a fraction of the cost of a new system, memory (RAM) upgrades deliver increased performance and allow you to get more years out of an existing machine. For desktops and laptops, you’ll want to upgrade in a way that balances costs with the performance needs of the end user, your pupils. Almost everything a computer does relies on memory, so doubling the amount installed can help run programmes like Microsoft Office and open multiple tabs in Google Chrome, a memory intensive web browser.

SSDs in your computers will do two things: radically increase productivity by delivering instant access to data (hard-drives spin a disk to find data, SSDs don’t), and help extend system life because they don’t have any moving parts that are prone to fail (like hard-drives). By installing SSDs in existing systems, you’ll stretch your budget while increasing performance. 

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