Why Schools Investing In New Technology Must Use Asset Management

Over the past few years, schools around the world have grappled with a new and sprawling challenge: How to properly integrate emerging technology into classrooms, while protecting students, teachers, and their investment alike?
The world at-large has radically changed due to the advent of smartphones, tablets, cloud computing, and social media. Schools needed to change along with it. For decades, schools operated mostly the same: Textbooks, pens and paper were the tools of the day. Now, schools are increasingly using things like Chromebook laptops, iPad tablets, and other tech-savvy devices that require attentive care and oversight.

One area in particular that needs to be monitored closely is the management of these assets themselves: Are students going to be responsible and mindful for and of their devices? Will their parents and teachers? How can we create a system that promotes accountability and fairness in regards to these not-inexpensive items?

Even the cheapest of these devices is still a hefty investment. Google owns the educational tech space, according to The New York Times:

Today, more than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students — more than 30 million children — use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs, the company said. And Chromebooks, Google-powered laptops that initially struggled to find a purpose, are now a powerhouse in America’s schools. Today they account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools.

Schools, typically by way of their students, pay Google a $30 maintenance fee for each Chromebook: Chicago Public Schools alone has spent over $33 million on tens of thousands of Chromebooks.

Here are some important things administrators should consider when making similar investments in the future of their schools.

1. A digital system of accountability

Just like digital tools are taking over for the paper-and-pen solutions of the past in the classroom, the administration side of things should also upgrade their systems to reflect new efficiencies. So, consider instituting a simple check-in/check-out system to deploy devices to each student at the start of the year and get them back at year-end, and for shared devices that are used around the school and returned after each class, project, or day.

A process powered by barcodes, could be the perfect solution here. Have the student or teacher scan a barcode on the device when it’s being handed over to the student for the duration of their use, and from then on they are personally responsible for it.

Things happen, and devices will still get lost or stolen but, when students and families understand that there is a digital record of their accountability, they’ll be more careful with the devices in their care—and it will be easy to track them down in the event that they aren’t.

Handing out the devices without any accountability is of course a non-starter but, even trying to keep track of these devices with spreadsheets and manual counts is a surefire way to create unnecessary errors.

2. Transparency and oversight

A barcode-powered system instills a sense of responsibility and accountability in students. It also gives teachers and administrators peace of mind that they can know exactly where each device is with a click of a few buttons.

Quality asset management systems like Wasp AssetCloud, allow users to see their data at any given time from a variety of devices. Whether teachers are at school on their desktops, or administrators are on their way home with their smartphones, they’ll be able to log in and determine the whereabouts of every device in the system.

When a barcode is scanned by a mobile barcode scanner, that information is instantly transmitted to the cloud, and the database will reflect those changes. No more double checking against spreadsheets or uncertainty about who had what device last. It’s all there in black and white—reducing headaches and costs.

3. Understand depreciation

A brand new computer simply isn’t the same as an old one. That’s because older machines have depreciated and lost some of their value. This is important for your insurance costs and understanding of when it will be time to replace the device.

Asset management systems can automatically track depreciation using a variety of methods—straight line, double declining balance, sum of years, etc.—and alert you when a device a) is due for maintenance and b) is due for disposal and replacement. It also tells you how to write the device off on your taxes that year and for years to come.

Technology in the schools is a complicated issue, on all fronts but, keeping that technology safe, accounted for, and properly depreciated should never be an issue. The simple adoption of an asset management system like Wasp AssetCloud that can grow with your investment in new education technology is the solution.