How do you decide what to spend money on when it comes to ed tech? Do you have a list of things you’d like to buy, or do you decide on an ad hoc basis when you read review of software and so on? Do you know how you would spend a small amount, like £10, or do you take the view that unless you’re allowed to spend at least £500 you don’t want to know?
A wishlist is, as the name implies, a list of items you wish you had, and which you would buy if you could. But here’s the killer: a good wish list covers everything, from the ridiculously small to the ludicrously large. But given that money and education are two words not usually found in the same sentence, why bother to create such a list? Here are several reasons.
Ensures you are ready when a windfall occurs
I have sometimes worked in schools that have to break even at the end of the financial year, so that any surplus can be a problem for the management. On one occasion I’ve been asked if I could spend £9,000 (around $14,000) by Friday — it being Monday at the time. Because I had a wishlist, I knew exactly what I could buy with that money, and so was able to take advantage of it. Had that not been the case, the boss would have made the offer to someone else.
Helps keeps you up-to-date with developments and prices
For your wishlist to be any good, it has to be reasonable up-to-date as far as prices (and other things, like versions and models) are concerned. So having a wish list kind of forces you to keep abreast of developments right across the board, and without having to feel guilty about spending time doing that rather than something more immediately useful. Keeping up-to-date is important, because in the scenario I described above, for example, had I needed to spend time researching and amending my wish list, I wouldn’t have got the money because the Principal wanted a definite answer there and then.
Helps you decide on, and change your order of, priorities
A wishlist is useful because it helps you to prioritise in a “what-if?” kind of way. On a superficial level, what you are saying is: “What would I purchase if I had £10? What if I was given £1000?” On a deeper level, your wishlist should reflect your longer-term plans. That means that what you are really saying is: “How could I spend £10 in a way that enables me to meet some of our long-term plans? Ditto £1000?”
Helps you think very big
I know it’s unlikely, but do you know what you would do with, say, £10,000 you didn’t know you were going to get? That actually happened to me once, as I mentioned earlier. The Headteacher came to me one day and said that the Governors had given me £9,000 to spend, double-quick. It’s good to be prepared, as the Boy Scouts say.
Helps you think very small
OK, let me just return to an earlier example for a moment. I asked “What would I purchase if I was given an extra £10?”. Well, you might think that is ludicrous: you could go out for a sandwich and coffee, buy a magazine to read while you’re eating and drinking, and you wouldn’t get much change from £10, so why even bother? If I was a Head of Computing and I was given a tenner, I’d announce a survey to find the most helpful digital leader in the school, and award them a £10 book token or iTunes or Amazon voucher. Or I’d run a competition to design a logo for a new project.
Can help you engage colleagues
If you work with a team of Computing teachers, then involve them in drawing up the wishlist.
Can help you engage kids
Get the kids involved too, through the digital leaders in the school for example.
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