Nine No-Nonsense Rules for Technology Purchases

For teachers and administrators baffled by technology, the author provides two beacons of hope. First, he observes that most technological innovations grow easier to use and more reliable over time, and this clearly is occuring in the world of computers. Second, he offers a list of rules to keep in mind when planning for technology use or purchases. Following these guidelines will keep the buyer focused on ease-of-use and utility:

1. Make as much technology as possible available to as many users as possible at all times. Equipment carts that are forever being wheeled around the halls, yet never in the right room at the right time, don’t help educators.

2. Buy technology that’s easy to set up—i.e., avoid poorly-made filmstrip projectors that take 15 minutes to set up.

3. Seek technology that is always connected. A DSL line is better than a modem, for example.

4. Use equipment that meets accepted industry standards, and make sure everything that’s purchased is compatible.

5. Simplicity is a virtue. Having to deal with complex installation or operating instructions detracts from educational time. Don’t pay extra for unnecessary features on equipment.

6. Avoid products that need to have parts changed or maintained. Corollary: If you’re going to need parts, make sure they are standardized items.

7. Technology that’s personalized is better. This is what makes eMail so attractive.

8. Modular technology is superior. Being able to rearrange components (assuming you’ve followed rule #4 about compatibility) is very valuable.

9. Ensure that the technology lets you do what you want to do. This requires foresight, as well as an ability not to be swayed by attractive but unneeded features.

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