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Computer Hardware Acquisition and Vendor Policies
Just like any acquisition of expensive equipment in the school, purchasing computer hardware is more or less the same. Computer hardware programs have to generally meet the needs of a particular school, and therefore the vendor has to be a significant consideration before acquiring any of them. It is good to avoid mistakes that come as a result of the wrongful acquisition of special computer equipment.
In most cases, such mistakes may lead to failure to use the hardware in a manner that substantiates its cost. This would mean that the school will have made an error by paying too much for the hardware in which they end up not using it properly. This section of this paper seeks to argue for the need for considering the manufacturer of the hardware before purchasing it to avoid mistakes.
Hardware programs are essential in the running of the entire school computer systems. This includes the finance, registration, students and staff records, examination and also in the teaching and learning process. Acquiring computer hardware without following a vendor policy is similar to putting the fate of the entire school computer system in the hands of a sales person, which a wrong thing to do in any organisation.
Buying computer hardware from a sales person would also mean that the school will have to incur extra costs that are usually hidden. This includes installation cost or configuration cost and support cost. Manufacturers usually ensure that the organisations’ needs are met by customising the computer hardware programs to fit their goals. It is also easier to upgrade the hardware programs when the purchase is made through a manufacturer. This means that the manufacturer will always be updating the school of any available upgraded version of the hardware program, making it possible for the school to be more satisfied.
Compatibility concern is one other issue that should cause a school to have vendor policy for the purchase of its computer hardware. There could be specific hardware programs that are not compatible with a particular operating system or software. Dealing with the particular vendor directly would help the school avoid mistakes such as the ones mentioned above. It creates an environment where the school and the manufacturer will be on the same page when it comes to responsibilities for specific actions.
It is possible that with the manufacturer, the school can stick with what it wants and has. For instance, once the school has defined its priorities and needs in a functional term, then the vendor can quickly be involved in coming up with the right hardware that will assist the smooth running of the school system. Therefore, the challenge that the school has is to identify a trustable vendor who understands the technicalities within the school environment.
The partnership with the vendor is not supposed to end the moment when the school purchases the computer hardware. This partnership continues for a longer duration as long as the school and the vendor remain in good terms. The relationship depends on whether the vendor can handle servicing of the hardware programs whenever required by the school. They do not have to send an outsourced company or group to do their responsibility of maintaining the hardware programs, especially during the valid period of the warranty.
The vendor policy within my school district is such that for any vendor to do business with any of the schools, then there are essential obligations that they have to follow. First of all, they have to handle all communication process with the schools through the assigned school representatives. Through these representatives, the vendors have to communicate issues to do with available updates for any of the computer programs both software and hardware, advice on public services and products that will improve on the already existing ones and give suggestions for an effort that would benefit both the school and the vending company.
Hardware purchase policy
The primary purpose of this policy is to enable the school to have restrictions for the purchase of any new computer hardware. The policy helps a lot to assist the purchaser only in being limited under the confinements of the school IT budget. Equipment of a specific standard is always a recommendation that any school would have. This policy sets down the particular standards for Information technology equipment that each school within a district needs to have.
The vendor has to be in agreement with the school to accept equipment configurations that are stipulated in the policy. This helps in improving pricing of the supplies and hardware equipment to both the school and the purchaser. It also assists the school administration to avoid more overheads. The school will incur less maintenance cost and better support for the equipment they have purchased if the policy is put in place.
Before making any purchase, there are specific hurdles that have to be completed for the purchase to be approved. The first hurdle is the standardisation of the hardware. According to the school hardware purchase policy, standardisation is not entirely restricted.
Purchase of nonstandard hardware component can occur but should at all times be minimised. To justify the purchase of such non-standardised hardware equipment, there should be an exceptional circumstance for its immediate requirement. For instance, the school cannot approve any purchase of non-standardised hardware equipment without indication of how it will be supported and who is responsible for supporting and maintaining the equipment.
The other hurdle is the review of the vendor to be involved in the acquisition of the hardware equipment. The school is responsible for reviewing the performance of the company before engaging in any transaction with the vending company. Such action is aimed at benefiting the in various terms. It will help the school to see the cost of the products that they intend to buy from the manufacturer and also see how reliable the product is and if there is need for any servicing to be done regularly. According to the policy, once the purchase has been made, the school is also entitled to continue with the product review after every six months.
There are several evaluation categories in which the performance of the vendor will have to be subjected both before purchase and after the purchase. These categories include cost, the time of acquiring the equipment, performance of the equipment, and reliability of the equipment. However, the categories are not limited to only these four mentioned. The third and final hurdle requires paper work and procedural matters. Before any purchase, some forms have to be filled and several people whom the forms have to pass through to append their signatures.
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Policy for software evaluation and selection
When it comes to software purchase, several ways can be employed to evaluate the software. Delgano identifies three categories that can be used to assess instructional software programs. These categories usually form the basis of most software evaluation policies for many schools and school districts. The software must be able to cater for input technique, cognitive task and system response.
The software must be understood exclusively for purposes of instruction, in as much as software programs are suitable for teaching and creating the necessary connection that the student requires relating to real life. However, this can only be achieved if the instructor plays a role in guiding the students as they interact with the software.
There are challenges and hurdles that arise during the evaluation process of the software. The first challenge concerns defining the educational outcome that the software tends to provide. It is hard to identify the competency level of the software program and how it is useful in giving the exact intended goal. The best way to overcome this challenge is by testing the program with the students and at the same time without the students.
This will enable educators to be in an excellent position to make a decision to purchase the software program or not. This means that piloting for instructional software is necessary. If the vendor of the software does not provide a piloting version or a trial version for a demonstration, then the chances are high that the program may not meet the objectives and goals of the school.
Measuring of intended outcomes is the other major challenge that is usually witnessed during the process of evaluation and selection. This challenge is preceded by the challenge of defining the results. But once the outcome has been determined, then measuring it would be an attainable task. This challenge can be overcome by testing the software on the students. Most of the instructional software programs have students test after every tutorial session. If the students are able to get the test questions and other instructional objectives of the tutorial sessions, then the program can be prejudged to be worth purchasing.
Overcoming this challenge will ensure that the program is tested for validity and reliability. The software program has to be able to refine the skills of the students and at the same time, develop a new essential life skill that the students will identify with in real life. It may not be possible to measure everything that is required because educational measures are restricted to observable skills only.
Thirdly, a challenge will arise when it comes to accounting for the impact of delivery that the software program will have to both the instructor who will be entitled to use it and the students. The software program will be flawed under one condition; if it is unable to create a clear distinction and separate the impact, it has on the delivery methods and educational methods. It is known that instructional strategies have to make the necessary motivation that the students require in order to enhance teaching and learning. Using the educational software program must meet the objectives of instructional methods and have a positive impact on the delivery of instruction.
If a comparison is made between the lectures conducted in a class by the tutors and the sessions in the software programs, one thing will come out clearly. This is that the methods of instruction will be the same, but the practices of delivery will differ. In other cases, the software programs will give a difference in both the delivery methods and in the instructional strategies. This difference is mainly due to the nature of both the two methods of instructions.
In the first method, the lecturer does not have to be patient with the instructor, but in the latter case, the computer program is self-paced. It is argued that computer programs do not entirely improve learning among learners. What media- and computer-based learning does to the student is that it alters the efficiency of cognitive learning. This alteration is usually on the positive side where the student will be in a better position to grasp what the software program intends for learning purposes.
Lastly, there is the challenge of coming up with practical problems for designing learning requirements. This is where the teachers play an essential role in identifying the required practical issues for the students. Before coming up with educational software, the process has to involve several stake holders to make a comprehensive thing that will be appreciated by all. It is not enough for the software programmers to code the software without the appropriate content that will be beneficial for the students in the instruction process.
Teachers have to be involved because they are the right people with the right content and instructional method required for the effectiveness of the software programs. During the evaluation and selection process by a school, these five challenges will be the main things that they have to overcome in order to select an appropriate program for their school. These same challenges apply even when it comes to hardware selection and purchase. The evaluation has to be a successful process and to achieve this then the
Technology façade checklist
Technology façade is an assessment program that is used to identify whether a school has an outstanding computer program or not. It consists of a series of questions that aimed at assessing the status the technology within a particular school. The section of this paper is an analysis of a field experience in which I conducted in the school in which I work. The first section of the assessment was checking on the use of technology within my school.
Technology use is a common thing in the school that I work in. For instance, it is not only computer teachers who are left with the work of using school computers. Each and every teacher in the school is entitled to be computer literate and also use the help of computer-based instructional programs to deliver the content of the lesson. I noticed that being able to use a computer in this school is an added advantage for the appointment of any new teacher.
There are several teachers who have lost their opportunity to be part of the esteemed teaching staff of this school because of their inability to simply operate a computer. Almost everything is done with a computer including the marking of some test, delivering assignments, students’ evaluations and reporting.
The computer facilities of the school are usually made available, especially to the students during periods in which they have free time such as recess. The facilities are only locked up for security reasons at night when everyone has left the school. This means that during regular operational hours, the students can use the facilities, especially internet services for research and other learning purposes. There is a school computer lab that is enough to accommodate 100 students at a time.
And this facility is usually opened to the students. There is also wireless internet connectivity in which staff and students with portable computers can use to access the internet from any point of the school. Each classroom has a computer which is typically operated by the class teacher. The computer is connected to the entire school network system, and it has the records of all the students in the class.
In most cases, the teachers in the school would use technology for grading the students, preparing their lessons, giving the students out of class assignments and for professional development. For instance, there are teachers who never write assignments on the board but refer students to the department page of the school website to look for an uploaded task. There are several computer-based lessons that the students regularly have, such as web quests.
During the web quests, the tutor only provides links to specific sites where the students will find necessary information for the particular task in which they are required to accomplish. Such exercises are essential to the student for enhancing research skills and presentation skills because at the end of it all they will have to use PowerPoint presentation to organise their findings.
Another common thing with the software found in the computers is that they are regularly updated so that they meet the changes that continuously occur with the curriculum. The software vendors are usually up to speed in providing the updated versions of their software. Some of the updates have to be downloaded from the internet, and this even makes it more comfortable since the updates run automatically.
The second section of the analysis concerns the necessary infrastructure. It is not just enough to provide the technical resources required for teaching. There are several infrastructures that are needed to go handy with these technological devices. For instance, teachers have to be trained in using the different technological tools including the computers in order to save on the cost of having a specialist who serves the purpose of guiding the students through the various programs.
The different stakeholders are all actively involved in the school development and technology committee. This committee is essential in sensitising the need to use technology for instruction. Technology is a big priority in the school, and funding for it is one of the areas that have to receive budgetary allocation each and every year. There are also programs that the administration uses every semester to recognise and appreciate teachers who embrace and use technology in their classes for teaching and learning. The school has a clear and well-articulated technology plan that clearly states the mission, vision and motto of the school with regards to technology. From the overall rating of the school, it can be concluded that it has a satisfactory technology program.