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Returning to Normal: What it Means for IT Teams

Schools are rebooting in-person learning following the year-long COVID-19 shutdown, and as districts move to return to ‘normal,’ a recent survey of 200 K-12 district leaders has revealed the following:

  • More than 82% of those surveyed said reducing spending inefficiencies and maximizing the reach of their budget was their top priority
  • Nearly 79% are prioritizing the need for better understanding of app and program usage
  • And more than 77% said that visibility into app usage was their most important tech data metric, followed closely by student login activity

Incorporate district priorities with the data on districts’ edtech resources

  • In the last year, the average district has nearly doubled the number of educational tech tools it uses (1,055)
  • 2/3 of all district-purchased tech licenses go unused
  • Twice as many unauthorized apps are downloaded to district devices as expected
  • Lightspeed customers NOT subscribed to Lightspeed Analytics™ are collectively spending more than $37 million on unused licenses
  • The average Lightspeed Analytics client has identified approximately $300K in its own unused license cost

Obviously, it’s a balancing act. Districts want to use their current arrays of tools efficiently, cut the excess items, and identify critical but underutilized technology and applications and address that usage deficit through targeted professional development. School leaders also want to make certain that any new funding sources, including CARES and ARP funds, are spent as efficiently as possible to maintain and even grow successful programs and app utilization within the district’s offerings.

District IT departments should be moving as rapidly as possible to identify their district’s tech funding status. Find out whether your district qualifies for additional state and/or federal funding. Know your district’s status with regard to any additional CARES Act funding. And think about ways your district might leverage any available American Rescue Plan funding to address additional tech needs.

A few bits of information can help IT departments understand how to eliminate tech budget guesswork. These include knowing student remote internet and device access rates, the rates of app adoption and usage for both students and teachers, and the compliance and data privacy scores for applications currently used on district networks.

Armed with that knowledge, and before moving to determine which subscriptions to retain and which to cut, IT and instructional leaders must agree on which elements in a district’s post-shutdown lineup represent critical purchases and ‘must-have’ software applications, and then use this information as a benchmark as they look for cost savings in order to optimize the tech spend.

Other factors come into play as well:

  • The continued relevance, functionality, and efficacy of long-used applications
  • Which tools in your array – brought on for remote learning – will offer high value for in-person instruction as well
  • Determining the reasons behind unused or underused licenses

The key to driving tech spend efficiency and optimization is data – having the right data and taking the correct analytical approach to that data so that a district’s expenditure delivers the greatest educational value for the fewest dollars. Data analytics tools such as Lightspeed Analytics™ enable IT leaders to gain detailed visibility into online instructional tools, with hard data around app adoption and usage, privacy and compliance performance, and the flexibility to derive and manage customizable data sets that reveal real-time insights for informed action.

Gaining transparency into software usage, student engagement, and data privacy compliance, while identifying cost-reduction opportunities and making data-driven decisions to maximize ROI – these are just some of the reasons districts should seek a comprehensive data analytics solution to monitor online activity and performance. Advanced analytics solutions give districts robust data on the effectiveness of any tech tools they implement to help ensure a strategic evaluation of their technology and streamline reporting to district administration.

Have a clear line of sight into usage, compliance, engagement, and online instructional effectiveness with Lightspeed Analytics, and download the full webinar for FREE on what returning to the classroom means for IT teams – hosted by our VP of Customer Success, Rob Chambers.

Further Reading

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