August 16, 2018

How Barcoding Technology Makes Education More Efficient

Written by
Momina Sohail

The education industry in the United States is worth $1.5 trillion today, and is growing at a rate of 5 percent each year. The rapid growth of the industry is presenting new challenges that need to be tackled effectively. This includes everything from shrinking school budgets to the increase in teacher duties, all of which puts a great deal of pressure on the administrative landscape of the education sector.

Another interesting part of this equation is that schools today are accumulating more assets than ever before. They have to manage equipment used in science labs, gyms, art classes, libraries, and equipment serving different functions such as learning-enablement tech, fixtures and fittings, administrative assets, and so on. This shift calls for a more dynamic system of management that makes use of innovative technology to organize academic and non-academic supplies at educational institutes.

How barcoding fits into educational workflows

Barcoding is one of the first rungs on the ladder to efficient inventory control. Whether education administrators are concerned with streamlining their procurement routines, sticking to budgets better, or getting the most out of expensive education assets, barcodes can help in a significant way.

With them, you can attribute a unique machine-readable system of identification to each education asset. These barcodes can then be integrated with an asset tracking software to monitor the movement of assets, pull up details on vendors, draft service tickets, and more. Asset tags can also be generated from scratch, which allows you to create distinct categories of assets which can then be labeled separately based on function, team, or location. In this way, following asset tagging best practices in barcoding helps schools and universities optimize and streamline inventory control.

Improving educational efficiency through barcodes

With the help of barcodes, school inventory management can be automated so that receiving, storing, and shipping processes are streamlined. This is of particular significance in an educational setting, where teachers and students alike have to constantly use different types of items – from science lab equipment to art supplies. A lot of these items have different primary requirements. For example, books need a fast-paced system of organization, whereas school supplies need efficient procurement routines so teachers don’t run low on important items. At the same time, gym equipment would need routine maintenance for safety, and IT assets would require regular updates so that students are working with the latest programs. Barcoding can help schools organize a lot of these activities, coinciding exactly with each category’s primary need. Here’s how this helps schools become more efficient:

1) Less administrative work for teachers

Teachers, in designing their curriculums and preparing for their classes, spend a significant amount of time buying and managing school supplies. They have to organize all items used in the classroom, and also need to keep track of which students or projects different assets were assigned to. This is a stressful task, especially as teachers already have a lot of other time commitments.

Of course, duties for different kinds of teachers vary substantially. For example, science teachers may have to monitor the movement of lab supplies constantly. Using barcodes to manage item assignments can reduce a lot of the administrative burden on them. Rather than having to maintain manual inventory logs every few days, teachers can simply scan a barcode to assign the custody of an item to whichever student currently possesses it. The time saved in this way can be utilized for other, more meaningful pursuits, such as more detailed curriculums, additional teacher training, or to catch up on grading.

2) Accurate and fast-paced processing

Barcodes allow educational assets to be tracked efficiently – from the time they are purchased to their eventual retirement. This allows you to capture a lot of crucial data about your assets, such as maintenance costs, patterns in utilization, item popularity by department or discipline, etc. The best thing about this is that barcodes allow you to process equipment – and therefore this information – a lot more quickly than if you were using a static spreadsheet.

You can process barcoded items either through an external reader or a mobile app. Thus, every time an item is borrowed, returned, checked into maintenance, or moved to a new location, employees can scan an item, and have its details updated into the system in real-time. Since all items are catalogued and monitored consistently, the chances of errors are reduced significantly. This means more accurate data for budgeting, and no more laborious paperwork!

3) Uninterrupted educational workflows

Schools can face constant interruption in the teaching process due to a lack of resources. This often arises due to the mismanagement of educational assets or poor procurement routines. The problem can be easily tackled by pairing barcodes with an asset management system.

Through this, each item can be tagged with an asset label, and any procurement needs can be flagged up through a notification system. This ensures that no activity – be it a basketball game or a reading session – is delayed because the school doesn’t have enough supplies for each student. In addition, items can be located simply by clicking a few buttons on an online portal. This lowers the delays that can sometimes occur as teachers scrabble around to collect all the gear they need. Another benefit of using barcodes is that they allow for the cross-sharing of equipment as a result of improved visibility into organizational assets. A demonstrative science project or a new interactive screen can be easily shared between departments. This streamlines logistics and ensures that administrative successes can be shared all over the institution.

4) Centralization that accounts for versatility

Schools and universities often have a whole range of supplies and equipment, each with different functions, shelf-lives, and physical properties. Keeping track of these items manually is not only tedious work, but can often lead to a lot more work for the administrator. They might need to organize all tasks individually, whether they’re assigned to vendors, janitorial staff, maintenance crews, or even teachers. Think of all the different checklists, procurement schedules, maintenance routines, and asset assignments you’d have to keep track of!

Barcodes save you from a lot of this hassle. They follow a uniform system, can hold a vast variety of data, and enable you to organize different activities from a central system – just by scanning an item and adding or updating its information with a few clicks. Barcodes can also be made for different types of assets – durable ones for outdoor gym equipment, tamper-proof ones for IT assets holding sensitive data, or even color-coded ones so that assets from different departments can be separated from each other. This balance of centralization and versatility make barcoding a must-have solution for the education sector. Not only does it make things a lot more efficient, but it also allows schools and universities to benefit from lower costs across the board.

Education asset tracking made easy with barcodes

Barcoding is an easy and versatile approach to cataloguing and monitoring supplies at an educational institution. What’s great is that it can be applied to so many aspects of the education landscape. As an example, schools and universities often house libraries that require the ordering and organization of a large variety of books. Barcoding helps librarians generate a numbered catalogue that can be easily navigated. It makes monitoring the condition of books easy, and also allows missing or in-demand books to be flagged up for quick response times.

In this way, barcoding helps optimize every asset-intensive aspect of the education sector. It ensures that more resources – time, money, and effort – can be dedicated towards academic excellence over administrative issues.

Momina Sohail works as a Communications Manager at EZOfficeInventory, an education asset tracking software. She is interested in the way technology interacts with contemporary business culture, enabling businesses to focus on core efficiencies.