Blog: Panel Procurement: Top Tips for Making the Right Investment

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These days, technology touches almost every part of a student’s life, which means modern classrooms need to be equipped with tools that are equally engaging if maximum student motivation is to be achieved

There are many factors to take into consideration when investing in new education technology, such as whether it meets the needs of the teaching and learning styles, if it enhances or integrates with any current classroom technology, and equally if the IT infrastructure can support the technology. As with any major investment, careful planning and the development of a systematic procurement strategy will help to ensure maximum value is gained from the purchase in the long-term.

With the recent shift towards Interactive Flat Panel Displays (IFPDs) over Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) in UK schools, we’ve outlined a few key factors to guide you through the procurement process, which is designed to help you invest in technology which meets your schools’ pedagogical and financial needs.

  1. Determine the need at grass root level

Arguably the most important factor when making an investment. Establish the clear drivers behind the purchase. For example, if you are upgrading legacy IWBS, moving to a new build school or standardising equipment, think about what front-of-class solution will best meet the learning needs of teaching staff and students. The newly enhanced ActivPanel provides schools with the latest features for a modern classroom environment, helping to future proof schools’ investment in education technology. The ActivPanel has been shown to facilitate classroom collaboration, engage with front-of-class instruction and empower students to take ownership of learning.

  1. Do your homework

While desktop research can provide you with information on technical specifications, it’s important that you get to experience the product for yourself first hand. Speak to colleagues in other schools to discover what works for them and find out if you can see the technology in action in a classroom environment. If you’re interested in learning more about Promethean solutions, our own business development team will always make time to meet you in school, to give you live demonstrations of our ActivPanel range, or you can choose to meet with one of our channel partners who will be happy to take you through our products in detail.

  1. Involve all stakeholders

It’s important that a wider-team of stakeholders including teaching staff and ICT managers is assembled and collaborates to ensure that agreed objectives are met. The role of the ICT manager is invaluable, it is he or she who is best placed to inform how new technology would fit with existing and if further investment will be needed in additional infrastructure etc. Teachers need to be comfortable with the proposed equipment, they will be able to offer advice on whether it will meet both teaching and learning styles, and will also take into account whether they will need to undertake any professional training to make sure they can use the equipment correctly.

  1. Is it sustainable?

Schools need to remember they will be making a long-term investment, so they must also consider the total lifecycle of a system and not just the initial purchase price. Further investment may be needed for example to ensure Wi-Fi signal strength is optimised to allow technologies to work to their full potential and in-sync with one another. Promethean provides ActivInspire Professional Edition Software as standard with its ActivPanel range. The collaborative experience of the ActivPanel can be enhanced further by the use of ClassFlow – our cloud-based learning platform. Teachers can register for a ClassFlow account to open up a new world of opportunity for lesson preparation, delivery, assessment and evaluation.

  1. Will it stand the test of time?

Additionally, as advances in computing power are continually evolving, purchasers need to consider how their investment keeps pace with the changes. Promethean has responded to this by creating a display solution which specifically addresses the demand for Android functionality in classroom displays – but providing this through an external, upgradeable Android device. In doing so, the hardware investment can easily keep pace with future advances in computing power. While system performance should be a key factor in the decision-making process, other important factors such as product warranty, software licensing, future-proofing and after sales care shouldn’t be forgotten, especially considering this will likely be a long-term investment for schools. The true marker of quality and ensuring a sound investment is made is whether a supplier will be in business long enough to honour standard warranties – as a minimum, purchasers should be looking for a five-year warranty. In addition, as standard, AV companies working in education should offer an excellent after sales and customer care service, as in the event of any issues; keeping lesson downtime to a minimum needs to be an absolute priority.