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FEATURE: COMPUTING IN SCHOOLS


and no agreements have been violated. All staff and pupils can use the software legally. A good software licensing agreement can save


hassle down the line, if use of the software is ever contested. Essentially, by ensuring that it is safe and compliant, you are future-proofing your school from costly potential problems such as a breach of copyright law. The money spent smoothing over issues could easily be saved by ensuring that software licensing is in place and functional. And, like it or not, using licensed software is a legal requirement, so why not ensure that it’s done correctly, with a full understanding? However overwhelming a software licensing agreement can be, it’s important to understand what it is really doing for your school. Your students are safe, and your teachers can teach. For pupils, it’s important to have licensed


software so that any material they use in their work is safe and legal for reuse. This includes music, clip-art, and the software they use to do their homework or access resources online. Any work pupils create using such software is then passed to teachers and assessed, therefore distributed, and requires licensing to be legal and safe. As an additional precaution, teaching pupils and staff how to assess the validity of any material they are accessing is extremely useful. All of this not only protects pupils legally, but it gives them a level of autonomy. When money comes into the equation,


software licensing can get even more complicated. Most of the time, a piece of software is licensed for a single user (take Microsoft Office, for instance. Once purchased for a home computer, you can’t then install it on another device). However, in a school, that often is not the case. A school can end up purchasing multiple software licenses, complicating the process and, most unfortunately, racking up the cost.


Making the best choice for your school Once you have a firm understanding of what software licensing is, why you need it, and what it can do for your institution, the next step perhaps has the biggest consequences. Choosing the best company to provide it, deploy it and give ongoing support to the school should be high on the priority list. There are plenty of managed IT


vendors who can provide this service, meaning that you don’t need to give it a second thought. The most important step is research, when it


comes to finding a well-known and reputable company to handle your software licensing. A proven track record is important, especially when it comes to ensuring that the school’s money is going to the right place and not being used to take risks. Compare it to renovating your kitchen at home. The company can deliver the new units, but what good is that if no-one is around to rip your old kitchen out, install the new kitchen, and make sure that everything is in working order? The right company will provide more than the bare-bones of the license. Choosing the right license is paramount here.


Shop around for one which includes multiple users, and you save endless amounts of hassle, and money can be used for something which is invaluable – ensuring pupils have a high-quality education. Every school has different needs for its


software, and to make sure the money is going to


be spent wisely, it’s important to know what the school’s unique requirements are, so that they can be met when it comes to getting software licensing right. Many providers will carry out audits of your software licensing to ensure that everything is compliant and in keeping with the law. It’s important to make sure that these checks happen, again, for the simple reason that it could save a lot of money down the line. Without being truly tech-savvy, often a holistic


approach to software licensing is needed for a school. After choosing a good provider and after the initial audit, what happens then? Once the software has been licensed, somebody needs to deploy it, so investing a little in some support to do this could be worthwhile for a school.


Technology versus money – can they work simultaneously? No head teacher wants to compromise on the education of their students in favour of administrative, technical requirements. It’s a necessary evil that sometimes is required to ensure that all of your software licensing has been arranged correctly, and it’s worth investing in it being done properly. Sometimes, the devil really is in the detail.


While it’s true from looking at reports, such as Sutton Trust’s, that school budgets are stretched to their limit, small details – such as navigating the idea of software licensing – can add up and contribute to saving the school money in the long run. Not only that, but choosing a license that covers multiple users and fits your requirements perfectly will save a big chunk of your time, and the school’s IT budget. With reports of school trips and other resources


being slashed due to financial restrictions, getting software licensing right first time can protect your budget in the long run, making it a matter not only for the IT department, but for the school’s finances, too. Seeking advice on the legal obligations and grasping its importance will lead to the mastery software licensing, giving educators time and budget to do what it is they do best: focus on educating their students.


32 www.education-today.co.uk June 2019


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