Those attending Bett last week would have swiftly seen it is likely to be a big year for IT in schools. The curriculum is undergoing a major evolution, moving away from traditional IT lessons, which show students how to build PowerPoint Presentations and spreadsheets in Excel, to prioritising disciplines such as coding which are more closely tied to computer science.
As a result, schools will need more support than ever before to establish which devices will aid the new syllabus best. Having teachers, IT departments and decision-makers at the school aligned in their priorities has never been more crucial.
One notable consideration they will need to explore together is the plethora of new options in terms of hardware and operating systems. With Google and Apple moving into a space that Windows has historically dominated, schools can benefit from greater choice to suit varying priorities.
However, they also need to make sure that these choices align with their learning objectives and the broader curriculum.
Will laptops, ultrabooks or tablets be most suitable in the classroom? Which platform will best prepare students for the future? What's the best-value option? The considerations are extensive.
Even schools with clear objectives can benefit hugely from specialist support. It can allow them to avoid the common pitfalls associated with investing in advanced technology that isn't compatible with their current infrastructure, for example.
Resellers and other tech providers therefore have an important role in offering guidance and making sure that school departments are making the right investments for them.
Teachers and IT managers need the confidence to explore new technologies and see them as an enabler, rather than an unnecessary cost. This will be a crucial first step for many schools in improving lessons and sparking creativity among students.
Effective digital technology can improve motivation, attainment and achievement while simultaneously reducing the work burden on teachers.
Schools brave enough to embrace cloud technology, for example, have revolutionised learning in some schools, allowing students to access lesson content and timetables from home. Incorporating video into the classroom allows teachers to bring their subjects to life, and students to experiment with new formats in presentations and special projects.
It's an exciting time for schools, and the potential is there to make some powerful changes. Careful planning, consultation and better communication within school departments will be key to a successful 2014.
Mark Byrne is head of public sector at Toshiba
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