3. We can achieve digital equity.
Financing allows us to purchase all new technology at the same time, so all students will be using the same devices and operating system and teachers will be able to use available instructional software. Being able to level the playing field for students who may be economically disadvantaged is very important to most districts. Replacing the oldest technology as budget becomes available or having students bring their own devices creates an uneven and unfair learning environment.
4. Financing leads to easier management.
With predictable budgeting from financing, we can refresh entire fleets at the same time. Before, we would buy new equipment as we had the budget. This meant that we had to manage and maintain various-aged devices. To track these devices, we used crazy, complicated spreadsheets. We also found that we weren’t consistent in replacing old technology, opting instead to extend the life of a fleet to “save” money. What this did was balloon our repair costs and put devices out of commission while they were being fixed. Having everyone on the same platform also simplifies device management using a mobile device management solution, such as Jamf, which allows us to hold the line on the number of technical staff needed to support the devices. Students can also keep their device if they switch schools within the district.
5. Training has been simplified.
Whenever we introduce new technology, we need to train our teachers how to use it. Having all teachers on the same devices greatly streamlines this process. Before, we would host a professional development day and half the teachers wouldn’t have the same technology. We also can easily introduce new software and operating system updates and know that all the teachers will benefit.
Finally, for school districts that currently are recycling their technology or may be considering financing, I’d like to offer a few bits of advice:
1. Start by reaching out to an asset management company. We partner with Diamond Assets. Ask which devices hold their value best and about repair rates. Asset management companies are the best resource for getting this information because they see which devices have the best resale value and which tend to get damaged most easily. Look for a partner with education experience and ask for a plan that shows the optimal length of time to keep devices, so you can trade them in when they still have good residual value.
2. Figure out your goals for education and the kind of learning experience you’d like to provide your students and teachers. Make sure you set the ceiling high so teachers and students benefit from more than just word processing and web browsing. Increasingly, students expect to learn in a multimedia environment. This will help you decide on a specific kind of device.
3. Compare financing plans for the devices you plan to acquire. Typically, the more value your fleet retains, the lower the cost to finance. Don’t forget to look at financing options through technology companies. For example, our financing rate through Apple is just .1 percent, which makes our finance costs almost free.
4. Don’t buy on initial price. The upfront cost should never be your biggest factor for an edtech purchase. Look at the total cost of ownership, including the cost of the technology, its resale value, the cost of maintenance, and the number of technicians you will need to support the technology.
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