Tech Audits: What Schools Need to Know

Various edtech devices lined up for a tech audit
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Since the pandemic, there has been an increased emphasis on supplying students and teachers with devices that keep them connected, as well as other edtech tools. 

As these digital tools have now become essential, tech audits should be given increased consideration. 

Mike Afdahl, Coordinator of Tech Services, Northwest GA RESA, makes it clear that a tech audit can help save money while maintaining focus on keeping what works.

“Tech audits tell me where things are,” he says. “Whether that’s a bookcase, a book, or a computer, you have to get to know where that is.”

Tech audits can give you a better understanding of what devices and items you have available in your school, how these items are being used, and whether you might need to make changes to your inventory. A tech audit works hand-in-hand with your budget, providing a clear picture of where you might need to focus your spending on if necessary. 

 Tech Audits: In-House or Third-Party? 

Having your tech audits executed by skilled professionals can help give you accurate results that can be invaluable to your decision-making. However, no one may know the true impact of your devices and programs like your own staff. 

Afdahl makes it clear that in some situations your own technology department can be effectively objective when it comes to conducting a tech audit.

“Sometimes your technology department can be that third party, because often they don’t have a dog in the fight,” he says. “When it comes to those types of emotional decisions, they’re just looking at ‘What do we have?’ ‘Are we getting good use out of it?’ So a third party doesn’t have to be what you use, but objectivity is really what you’re looking at.”

 When Should You Conduct a Tech Audit? 

Many schools conduct a tech audit once per year as a form of inventory. However, Afdahl says that there might be more beneficial times during the year to run your tech audit.

“At the end of the year, as you’ve collected your student devices, that’s a good time to do an audit,” he says. “If you wait until August to do a student device audit, or an inventory check, then you may not have enough devices for that next year. Also, if I wait until July to do my platform audit, we’ve already done renewals at that point. It might be a good idea to start doing an audit in December on your edtech tools.”

If you’re looking at edtech tools, there are various questions that will dictate a tool’s usefulness and whether you should look for a replacement for the upcoming year.

 Should a Tech Audit Separate Devices and Tools? 

A tech audit can mean different things depending on who you ask. Some might lump both devices and edtech tools together in an audit, while others do one then the other at different times in the year.

Afdahl suggests conducting two audits during the year.

“When I’m doing a device audit, that’s to make sure my devices are where they’re [supposed to be],” he says. “When it comes to your edtech tools, that’s where your curriculum needs to be involved. Curriculum doesn’t really need to be involved with devices.”

To create a good flow, Afdahl suggests that there be an audit conducted in December to make sure devices are where they are supposed to be, and another one in June to make sure you have all the devices you’re supposed to have. 

 The Hidden Cost of Poor Audit Practices 

Conducting a tech audit can provide a good idea of what devices you’re using and what edtech tools are working for you, but it can also help your school save money on cybersecurity insurance. With more and more connected devices being used in schools over the last few years, keeping student and educator information secure is a top priority. Afdahl says that regular audits can help mitigate the cost of cyber insurance, especially by implementing multifactor authentication.

“Multifactor authentication has been a big push in some districts,” Afdahl says. “If my insurance rates are going to go up, or we are not going to get coverage, it’s because we don’t use multifactor authentication, and that might help those practices improve.”

Michael Millington
Senior Staff Writer

Michael Millington is a senior staff writer for Tech & Learning. A writer and editor with over a decade of experience, his focus on bringing actionable information to those in need is the driving force behind his work. When not researching new advancements in technology, Michael likes to practice his Italian and train his dog Cyril.