Schools are in the business of educating students. They don’t have time or expertise to be in the technology business; yet, the technology business decisions they make have important implications for teachers, staff, and students. If these decisions are not informed by industry best practices, schools risk losing valuable resources and opportunities to get a good return on their technology dollars.
Effective IT leadership helps school administrators become good stewards of taxpayer money. It ensures that the school spends money wisely, on everything from infrastructure upgrades to staffing to asset refreshes. It also helps manage daily technology operations and measures the team’s performance against objective, industry criteria.
VARtek’s IT leadership is based on industry best practices outlined by such initiatives as Project RED, a national model of school technology implementation on any scale. Project RED is endorsed by 10 leading educational and technology-focused organizations, including: the National School Board Association, the Association of School Business Officials International, and the International Society for Technology in Education.
Project RED’s strategies (see below) for everything from planning and leadership to communications and evaluation are part of a technology roadmap for schools. Following this roadmap increases buy-in from stakeholders and improves the chances that technology initiatives will succeed.
Leveraging best practices such as Project RED’s and drawing on our decades-long experience in this industry, VARtek works with school administrators to re-shape their IT strategies.
For example, we recommend that a school’s IT budget should account for approximately two percent of its overall budget and that about 20 percent of that should be spent on assets. A school’s IT staff should have, on average, one full-time employee for every 1,000 students.
Many schools discover that they are not in line with these and other standards. VARtek identifies ways for a school to spend less or spend differently and helps create a staffing model with the appropriate number of employees with the right skills to implement an effective technology environment.
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Project RED Best Practices
Planning: Develop a well-designed plan for implementation and sustainability.
Leadership: Lead and support all aspects of the implementation effort.
Technology Infrastructure: Build a solid technology infrastructure.
Professional Learning: Schedule regular professional development for administrators, teachers, and IT personnel.
Communications: Encourage viral information sharing among stakeholder communities.
Policies and Procedures: Develop policies and procedures guided by instructional goals.
Support: Build a network of partners and experts.
Expectation Management: Set realistic goals.
External Evaluation: Include ongoing independent evaluation.