January 15, 2015
By Carlos A. Garcia
Is your tech ready to rock in the New Year? Follow this simple checklist and find out
Amid all the chaos, it can be easy to let general maintenance slip under your radar. But in my years as a tech director for districts around California, I realized that staying on top of the small things helped me be more prepared to handle big issues as they arose.
So I came up with five essential “tech checks” to complete at the beginning of each calendar year, and I hope they’ll be as helpful to you as they were to me.
1. Count ‘em. Take an inventory of your current devices and accessories like carts and charging adapters, and make sure the counts match up to what you should have. If there are missing devices, find out where they may have been moved or used. Need help with device management? Something like the Casper Suite from JAMF Software will quickly become your best friend.
2. Check ‘em. Once you’ve located all of your devices, go through them to check for damage or any other issues. The holidays may be over, but you can still create your very own “naughty or nice” list, separating the bad devices from the good. This will give you a more accurate count of how many good devices you actually have available.
3. Fix ‘em (or replace ‘em). Take a look at devices on your “naughty list” and decide if simple repairs can get each device back in working order or if you’ll need to replace them completely. If you don’t have the manpower to diagnose each device, many hardware companies offer free shipping and diagnostic services for schools. To fill any gaps left by broken devices or new student influxes, consider buying refurbished or certified equipment. You can often match the same year and specs of your existing devices to make implementation much easier and cheaper than buying new.
4. Sell ‘em. If you have older computers or tablets that are not being used, now is the time to sell them. Here’s one of the best kept secrets in ed tech – you will often get up to 50 percent more for devices you sell in the winter months instead of the summer, when everybody is trying to unload their old machines. Education-specific hardware vendors will work with you to give you the best deal on your used devices.
5. Update ‘em. The start of a new semester is the perfect time to install software updates and deploy images, especially if you can make a habit out of it every year. Test new software packages on a few devices before doing a large-scale rollout. For easy updates to laptops and desktops, check out the free open source program DeployStudio; for iPads, you can’t beat the free Apple Configurator available on the App Store. In order to take full advantage of Google’s device management solution for Chromebooks, make sure to enroll the devices with Google upon initial setup. For larger deployments and mixed device environments, check out AirWatch.
By taking care of these simple “tech checks” now, your ed tech equipment should be ready to rock in 2015 and beyond!
Carlos A. Garcia spent 17 years working in technology administration for school districts around Califonia. He is now the national director of purchasing for Mac to School.