When it Comes to Education, Think Ink

School purchasing administrators know, from kindergarten classrooms up through administrative offices, that schools need high-performance technology.  Today’s educational learning environments demand solutions that fit into tight budgets, deliver easy-to-use technology and encourage participation and collaboration. In the United States, there are approximately 100,000 schools and 5,000 colleges and universities.

Education is a market that demands technology. Today’s students are using technology out of school and expect to have the same, if not better, access in school. New teachers coming into the system today have no experience working without technology. They learned to teach during the technology movement and consider it a necessity to the learning environment. Therefore, both the buyer and the seller need to understand the specialized needs of the classroom, school and district – what they need and when they need it.

With K-12 school districts so dependent on government funding and taxpayer money, products that make economic sense are of utmost importance. Education remains a paper-intensive industry, and teachers are often forced to buy supplies such as paper or ink out of their own pockets.

Education requires printers with speed, high image quality, affordability and reliability. Their busy environment requires a variety of factors, including:

  • Purchase cost of device
  • Volume of print and copies generated
  • Cost of device to run
  • How much user intervention is required
  • How much power or electricity is required to run the device
  • Delivery and installation costs
  • Cost and availability of warranties
  • Environmentally conscious devices

What kind of device can best meet those needs? How do you keep costs low for budget-strapped districts and still keep things simple for time- and resource-strapped educators? Think ink. For many years, inkjet printers were considered ideal home printers, while laser was the standard for business and high-volume environments. But today’s business inkjet printers are efficient, simple in design and economical, offering a number of advantages over laser printers, even for high use areas like education.

For the school district looking to save time, money, drive productivity and make color more affordable, inkjet offers a greater value proposition. Today’s business inkjet printers are fast and economical, providing high-quality results for teachers and students with less downtime. They are also low intervention, with some models capable of printing up to 84,000 pages without having to change the ink — a huge advantage for teachers. With the paper handling, network and security management tools available, today’s business inkjet printers can be beneficial to the education environment. And larger-format devices allow for in-house printing of signage and posters — great for numerous school projects.

Additionally, there are print programs that help manage printer maintenance, so schools no longer have to pay when a printer goes down. In an academic setting, many IT calls are print related, and include paper jams, requests for supplies and network issues. Print as a service programs free up resources to work on issues that impact the classroom and student learning. And, since most inkjet MFPs integrate with fleet management platforms, device statuses and consumables can be monitored remotely.  Proper personnel are automatically notified when supplies are running low or service issues arise.

How about the transformation to digital workflow? The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, which lays out rules to protect the privacy of a student’s education records, applies to all schools that receive funds from most programs under the U.S. Department of Education. Schools must provide parents or eligible students with an opportunity to inspect and review the student’s records within 45 days following the request and protect a student’s personally identifiable information. Here, easily being able to search and retrieve records that can be printed on the spot makes handling requests quick and easy, especially in large districts where a multitude of requests are made each day.

Ultimately, MFPs are easy to use, can be customized to meet the individual needs of each classroom or school, and can run their own applications to streamline tasks and take the load of overburdened teachers and administrative staff. A printer or MFP is an ongoing investment, one that can have significant effects on a school district’s budget. The best investment for a school district will be the one that considers the diverse needs of the organization, as well as its total costs.

is Director of Business Imaging at Epson America, and leads the marketing of Epson’s WorkForce products into North America, including the revolutionary new 100-page-a-minute WorkForce Enterprise WF-C20590 printer. He is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience.