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Room for improvement

Schools are gaining control of print, but could still do better, new survey shows

Education is a key market for print and IT resellers, as Ingram Micro pointed out in last issue’s cover story.Its potential is confirmed by the results of the second annual KYOCERA Document Solutions UK Ltd Education Technology Report, which show that schools are continuing to invest in technology to control print and are open to new technologies, such as 3D printing. Of the 500+ teachers, department heads and school heads surveyed, 59% said that they were taking steps to reduce the amount of printing done in their organisation.

In addition to its hardware devices, KYOCERA offers a number of apps suitable for schools and colleges. These include Teaching Assistant, which speeds up the creation and marking of multiple choice tests so that teachers can spend less time marking and more time with their pupils. KYOCERA estimates that Teaching Assistant can save a typical primary school teacher 30-60 minutes per test, whilst also eliminating marking errors and making it easier to assess the performance and progress of individual pupils and an entire class. The app automates three key processes and, because it is embedded on an MFP, everything can be done at the device itself: the creation and printing of multiple choice tests; the scanning and automated marking of tests; and the production of individual and class reports.
In addition to its hardware devices, KYOCERA offers a number of apps suitable for schools and colleges. These include Teaching Assistant, which speeds up the creation and marking of multiple choice tests so that teachers can spend less time marking and more time with their pupils. KYOCERA estimates that Teaching Assistant can save a typical primary school teacher 30-60 minutes per test, whilst also eliminating marking errors and making it easier to assess the performance and progress of individual pupils and an entire class. The app automates three key processes and, because it is embedded on an MFP, everything can be done at the device itself: the creation and printing of multiple choice tests; the scanning and automated marking of tests; and the production of individual and class reports.

This has caused overall print volumes to fall since last year’s survey. In 2013, over half of teachers questioned said their school printed more than 3,000 sheets of paper each term. Last year, the number fell to 24%.

While this suggests that schools are eliminating unnecessary printing and/or paper use, there is evidence that they could do more to control printing and associated costs. For example, less than half of respondents (48%) knew whether printing costs were being accurately allocated in their school.

This was higher than the 2013 figure of 35%, but according to Moya Kelleher, Education Business Manager of KYOCERA Document Solutions UK Ltd, it does indicate that many schools are still not taking advantage of the print management tools available to them.

She said: “Schools, colleges and universities are under constant pressure to scrutinise and reconsider their costs in line with current Government policy. One of the areas in which efficiencies can be particularly useful is around processes such as technology and printing, and it is surprising to see the opportunities that are still being missed.”

Depending on your viewpoint, another way schools (or their MPS provider) could cut costs is through the use of remanufactured or compatible toner supplies. According to KYOCERA’s survey, 61% of schools still buy genuine toner for their printers.

Print management solutions are not the only way for resellers to compensate for declining print volumes. The willingness of schools to embrace new technologies means that there is also the opportunity to diversify into other areas, such as cloud technology – identified by 51% of those surveyed as the improvement they would most like to see in their organisation’s technology over the next year – and 3D printing.

When asked whether they saw potential for 3D printing in their school, college or university, just 23% of respondents said they couldn’t. Of those who saw potential, more than half (53%) felt 3D printing could help to create teaching aids across all subjects, whilst 55% said they would consider it for specific subjects, such as design and technology.

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