As school budgets continue to shrink, school districts are working to ensure that available funds go toward instruction, not overhead, as much as possible. They’ve been successful, in many cases, by turning to technology to provide access to instructional materials that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive.

But there’s one big cost that seems impossible to get under control — printing. First, there’s the continuous cost of supplies such as paper, ink and toner. Then, there are the maintenance costs, including the time employees spend fixing paper jams, delivering or recycling forgotten printouts and managing the print workflow.

Fortunately, cloud printing solutions offer increased efficiency and cost savings for educational settings.

The Benefits of Cloud Printing

When your school is full of different devices, it can be challenging to get them all connected to the correct printers, especially when you have tablet or laptop carts that move from class to class. When you use a cloud printing solution to connect them, teachers don’t have to change any print settings or install any drivers when they bring the devices into their classrooms. They and their students can just print what they need, either to a central device or a classroom printer.

This also ensures that substitute teachers and other staff who travel to different locations are set up to print without a lot of hassle.

Cut Costs With Print Management

Cloud printing options, such as Google Cloud Print, can help schools centralize their printing and manage how much is being printed, and by whom. One cloud printing solution that helps manage multiple devices in a single print interface is FollowMe by Ringdale. This tool is a Windows-based server solution that allows tablets and laptops to use the standard print interface. Then, the teacher or student can go to any enabled printer and enter their authentication code. The printer then prints their documents. This authentication process prevents users from printing multiple copies of an item because they forgot to retrieve it.

Eric Crump, director of strategic alliances at FollowMe by Ringdale, tells the story of a school district that used cloud printing to help change teachers’ behavior and printing habits. They used the FollowMe tool specifically to route larger jobs from more expensive classroom printers to the centralized district printer. “When sending a large print job, teachers would see a message that the job was too large to be printed in the classroom and needed to be sent to the central district printer,” said Crump. This functionality is based on policies that can be set to help control costs. Other popular policies include changing the default print setting on emails to black and white to save color toner, and to print all documents two-sided to save paper.

Maximize Bandwidth

FollowMe offers functionality that helps minimize the effects of printing on the school network, too, which can help districts postpone purchases of additional bandwidth. It also helps ensure that school bandwidth is being used for instructional purposes, not shuttling files to the printer. “We have the capability to compress the size of the print job up to 90 percent,” said Crump.

Further Cost-Cutting Goals

FollowMe offers reports that show the amount of money saved by using the solution and the environmental impact of the policies enacted. These reports can be useful for showing how school and district staff are working to use taxpayer or tuition funds wisely. The reports can also be used to support formal or informal in-school competitions to see who can cut their printing costs the most, or who can make changes to the way they print that have the most environmental impact.

Increase Data Security

One of the other important components of a print management suite such as FollowMe is security. Because print jobs are authenticated before being printed, jobs that might contain sensitive data won’t sit unattended on a printer for anyone to grab. FollowMe can also secure scanning and copying on a multifunction printer to further enhance security, Crump explained.

Printing is one of those cost centers that’s difficult to tackle on a large scale. But cloud printing solutions can help your school or district reduce costs while making things easier for teachers, staff and students. That’s a big win.

Learn about more ways you can incorporate digital technology into your classroom by checking out our full line of educational technology solutions.

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Jennifer Roland

Jennifer Roland is an experienced ed tech writer, having worked on various ISTE publications for 12 years before striking out on her own. Her work has appeared in Ed Tech: Focus on K-12, NPR-affiliate KQED’s education blog MindShift and edCetera. Jennifer’s first book, "The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology," was published by ISTE in 2009. Follow her posts about ed tech and marketing at Follow her on Twitter: @jenroland

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