Wednesday saw the announcement of the Coalition Government’s Spending Review, which will affect public spending and education budgets for the next four years.
The good news for schools in England is their budget is set to rise from £35bn to £39bn however they are likely to be affected by the significant cuts to local authorities. Universities have been affected the worst, facing a 40% cut to teaching budgets; post-18 further education didn’t go unscathed, taking a 25% hit.
Saving money with eLearning
In my last blog post I looked at how top universities were using elearning to generate revenue. Now I would like to take a look at the money saving potential offered by elearning.
You will only have to visit London’s BETT show in January to see that education technology is big news and big money, but that doesn’t have to mean more budget. As a matter of fact it means quite the opposite.
eLearning offers a number of money saving opportunities for both education and business organisations. For businesses in today’s credit crunch society training is still a must, as are budget cuts. eLearning can facilitate both, directly offering significant savings in travel costs and indirectly saving money by reducing the time staff are away from the office.
Ernst and Young provide a good example of the potential savings on offer. The company cut training costs 35% while improving consistency and scalability. They condensed about 2,900 hours of classroom training into 700 hours of web-based learning, 200 hours of distance learning and 500 hours of classroom instruction, a cut of 52% (Brandon, 2000)
eLearning can also offers savings on delivery costs, removing the need for classrooms, additional trainer costs and the cost of offline resources.
In a previous blog post I referenced Sawtry Community College’s aims to save up to 20% of the school’s budget over the next year, basing the bulk of their savings on technology. An example of saving on resources come from their science department, who saved £1000 a quarter on paper, laser cartridges and running costs by scanning resources into their VLE rather than laser printing and photocopying.
Open Source Software
eLearning software comes in all shapes and sizes. There is the option to buy the software (e.g. Microsoft) or download the Open Source equivalent (e.g. OpenOffice) for free. Open Source Software, the free version, is readily available and covers almost every requirement in the national curriculum so it is not necessary to buy any software at all.
There is a myth that if it doesn’t cost anything then it isn’t worth anything. Open Source Software is capable of doing everything commercial software does and comes without the annual license fee, meaning huge savings.
In Becta’s 2005 report on Open Source Software in Schools, a comprehensive study of the spectrum of use and related ICT infrastructure costs, it was discovered that OSS schools made a saving of 24% – 44% compared to non-OSS schools.
The report also found that the cost of support in OSS schools were generally around 50-60% of the equivalent non-OSS support costs. A quote from one of the school’s involved in the study (although the specific person is not referenced):
“If I moved anywhere else […] I’d implement OSS because the financial savings are considerable and this releases more resources to tackle successful implementation.”
As an additional benefit, because OSS is free to download there is no vendor lock-in leaving you free to shop around for the best value.
Moodle is an example of Open Source eLearning Software and fast becoming the Virtual Learning Environment of choice for educators around the world. As such it comes with all the benefits of the best commercial equivalents but without the added cost of the annual license fee. This can equate to significant savings in tight budgets.
In a previous blog post I referenced the University of North Carolina’s study into the best VLE for them. At the time they where using Blackboard, but found,
“the University would realise a cost savings of 52% in year 2011-2012 by switching to Moodle as the standard University Learning Management System.”
Another example of Moodle‘s cost saving potential is offered by Marc Blake, Network Manager at Highworth Grammar School, speaking to the BBC in 2009:
“For our school to upgrade to Office 2007 it will cost around £27,000 as a one-off cost, but that doesn’t include the cost of re-training and updating all the associated worksheets and teaching material
“To get the equivalent of Moodle for our 1200 students would have cost in excess of £3,000 per year. You don’t get the professional support, but if you’re willing to take that on, it’s great money saving,”
Moodle provides all the cost-saving potential that comes with elearning, and as an Open Source Software it comes with all the benefits of commercial software but without the additional fees. With cost-cutting at the forefront of every organisation’s agenda Moodle has proved time and again to offer real savings to Schools, Universities, Businesses, Private Training Organisations of all sizes.
For more information on our Moodle services click on one of the following links Moodle Hosting, Moodle Training, Moodle Support, Moodle Themes and Moodle Development or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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