Technology and Learning, March 1999, p. 22

Here are some quick strategies to help you get the most out of scarce technology funds and aging computer equipment:

  1. Choose a sound purchasing strategy. Most schools tend toward the extremes when it comes to technology—by either buying expensive equipment way ahead of the curve for future projects, or buying lagging equipment to meet immediate needs. It’s best to have a forward-looking plan, but purchase technology that’s just good enough to meet the goals of that plan.

  2. Carefully evaluate leasing. Leasing enables a district to acquire new equipment more frequently. However, leasing means little chance to build a solid inventory of machines, and every time you change the lease you’ll need to move information from the old hard drives to the new ones, or at least re-install key software and networking packages. Given the cons, many schools opt for a lease-purchase arrangement, which gives financial flexibility early on and allows for purchase at a later date when more funds become available. Some lease-purchase programs even include free hardware and software upgrades through the life of the contract, which in some cases can last up to five years.

  3. Upgrade. A relatively inexpensive way to supercharge an older computer is to add more RAM. CPU upgrades are also popular, but can end up being labor intensive, especially with older computers that require replacement of the entire circuit board.

  4. Set up client-server networks with older equipment. Connecting less powerful machines to a powerful server and can squeeze extra years out of aging computers.

  5. Old computers outdated by today’s standards can still perform simple tasks like word processing and typing instruction. You could create entire writing labs out of older machines or dedicate stations for particular classroom activities and software programs.

  6. When all else fails, you can have students take apart old computers to learn about how they work.