Calculating Costs - Tech Learning

Calculating Costs

The public expects that schools will use technology in instruction and communication. But as educators work to increase access and use, they are learning that the purchase price of hardware and software is just the tip of the iceberg. Training and technical support — as well as utility bills and supplies —
Author:
Publish date:

The public expects that schools will use technology in instruction and communication. But as educators work to increase access and use, they are learning that the purchase price of hardware and software is just the tip of the iceberg. Training and technical support — as well as utility bills and supplies — cost districts at least 50 percent of the original price of the technology. Accordingly, many educators worry far less about getting equipment than they do about keeping what they already have operational.

Total cost of ownership (TCO) refers to the true cost of purchasing and maintaining technology. Educational institutions have long recognized the need to plan for ongoing costs in some areas; facilities and transportation, for example, are two departments where maintenance and upkeep are continuously funded. However, large purchases of most instructional materials have traditionally been tied to six- or seven-year textbook adoption cycles. Unfortunately, most new technologies become obsolete in just three to five years. With these odds, technology-based instructional programs will not thrive if educators do not rethink spending patterns.

Teachers and students cannot make best use of their resources when they don't understand how to use the technology or when the infrastructure isn't reliable. In response, administrators are developing strategies to fund ongoing support of instructional technologies. As mentioned in September's Bottom Line column, one increasingly popular solution is for districts to charge schools a flat fee or a percentage of the total cost for every new technology purchase, which covers a variety of recurring expenses. Some districts now charge schools a monthly per-computer fee to cover TCO for existing technologies. Others leave these costs to sites and departments but require that a TCO plan be reflected in budgets and annual programmatic plans.

If your school or district is grappling with these issues, visit Taking TCO to the Classroom, hosted by the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) at www.classroomtco.org. This site offers free publications, tools, case studies, and other resources to help educators develop effective strategies for handling TCO.

Susan Brooks-Young is an educational consultant and writer.

Featured

Related

Calculating Total Cost of Ownership

I want to start budgeting for Total Cost of Ownership expenses, but I'm not sure where to begin. Can you recommend a resource that would help me project some actual figures? Experts say that whether you plan for it or not, a well supported technology program requires annual expenditures of 30-50% of the original

Tips from the Bottom Line

A T&L columnist shares ROI highlights from the past year. Funding Technical Support Ongoing technical support is often under-funded in district budgets. Most fall far short of the Consortium for School Networking's (CoSN) recommended ratio of one technician for every 50 to 70 computers, or one technician for every

Staff Development on a Shoestring

Make professional development work for you. Leadership consultant Price Pritchett says, "The biggest challenge today isn't getting an education, it's keeping one." Meaningful and practical staff development is a must for every school employee, but budget and time constraints can make it extremely hard to fit

Show Your Work

Often, the weakest link in a grant proposal is evaluation. Until recently, evaluation was usually an afterthought. But increasingly limited funds and a growing concern about accountability have led most grantors to expect a thorough account of how the programs they fund will be implemented and an evaluation of the

The Costs of Common Core

In a recent article, Education Week reviewed ways to trim the cost of implementing the Common Core State standards. Suggestions to limit expenditures include: Moving away from hard-copy textbooks and doing more sharing of online materials. Using computer-administered technology to offer formative assessments. Delivering professional development through a mix of in-person and online instruction.  States, districts, and charter providers must be willing to stop purchasing goods and services from their existing vendors if they don't meet their current needs, and seek out new vendors willing to take advantage of the opportunities the new standards present.  While Atomic Learning agrees that all of the ideas have merit, we offer an additional solution: using a collaborative approach to plan the implementation of the new standards. Atomic TechCore includes: Planning tools for school leaders PD and lesson plans for teachers Lesson assignments for students Creating an efficient plan to implement the standards is the first step to reducing the overall costs of implementation. Atomic Learning has a tool to ensure school leaders and teachers use all resources currently available within their district, and determine which additional resources may be required.   Contact Atomic Learning for additional information about how the Atomic TechCore solution can help you with your implementation plan!

Low Cost Document and Video Camera

Tip: You can purchase different types of video and still cameras to capture different types of images. There is a camera/microscope that can do all of this and more. The Scalar SOAR, or Scope On A Rope is a handheld video camera that can display on your television set, projector, or computer. Use the 1x lens

Tech Support

Even in tight financial times, initial costs for new technologies are impossible to ignore. However, ongoing technical support is often under-funded in district budgets. Although the dot-com bust has made it a little easier for districts to hang on to qualified personnel, most districts still fall far short of the

Tips from the Bottom Line(2)

from Technology & Learning A T&L columnist shares dollarwise highlights from the past year. Revisit Past Funding Practices Stymied by how to manage anticipated funding decreases and spiraling costs? Bleak funding projections can result in significant reductions or elimination of programs, regardless of their