Does your school rely on software too much?

Computers are a fantastic tool for teaching children; completely dominating the current educational sphere and threatening to replace teachers entirely by 2016!

Most schools use teaching software wherever possible but what they may not realise is that the use of software represents a potential risk – if necessary protection is not put in place.

If it doesn’t work, what will you do without it? While a back-up plan and textbooks are always useful, it helps to take a look at what the main risk with relying on software is, as well as a potential solution.

A question of ownership

The main issue with software is that you do not own it. What you most likely have is a license. If you agree to an end user agreement while installing the software, you or the school has entered into a Software as a Service or SaaS contract.

As you don’t own the product, your staff can’t use the source code. Instead the software provider promises to give you a working product. If they fail, you can obtain the code to ensure your service is not disrupted.

In theory, this is meant to act as motivation for your software provider to maintain their programmes but there are reports of companies abandoning their legal duties. This can often involve lengthy legal processes which waste time and money … all while you have children to teach and software that isn’t up to the task.

Utilising escrow

Escrow is often used for finances but the likes of Ncc often have specialised versions for digital products, including software escrow. This puts the source code in escrow and can speed up the process should the SaaS contract be broken.

The escrow agency has the power to give you the code, instead of going through lengthy court processes. As a result, you can quickly get the code to your IT experts who can fix the software and provide ongoing support rather than relying on the provider.

In other cases, entering into an escrow acts as further motivation for the software’s owner and ensures they take their legal duties as seriously as possible.

In short, if you have software you rely on for work, such as learning programmes or even simple office processors that get used on a daily basis, a little extra insurance can help protect against the worst and keep your school running smoothly.

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Özge Karaoğlu is an English teacher and educational consultant in teaching young learners and teaching with web-based technologies. She is the author of Minigon ELT book series, which aims to teach English to young learners through stories. Read more of her ideas about teaching English through technology and Web-based tools at