California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II

Total cost of ownership and maintenance issues

As commonly used, the phrase "total cost of ownership" (TCO) refers to the complete costs of hardware purchases, including the cost of infrastructure, software, staff development, and technical support necessary to use the hardware, in addition to the purchase price or lease cost of the hardware.

Just as administrators need to consider the cost of training, supplies, and maintenance when purchasing new cleaning equipment for its schools, districts have discovered that purchasing new technology involves much more than just buying new hardware and placing it in classrooms.

District and site administrators must consider the cost of new software licenses, supplies (i.e., paper, compact discs), furniture, networking, Internet service, and professional development for teachers in how to use the technology effectively to improve teaching and enhance learning. Administrators and leadership team members also need to consider the cost of training technical staff to provide ongoing support and the maintenance of the new hardware as well as the impact any new technology will have on the existing infrastructure.

Maintenance and upkeep of technology should be a major consideration before purchasing district, school, or classroom equipment. For example, district and/or school administrators need to develop and fund a system for maintaining servers, student accounts, passwords, firewalls, and anti-virus programs (that may conflict with other programs). For example, students often report broken keys, files that vanish, inability to log in, files that will not print, and programs that malfunction. As much as technology engages students, it can also interfere with learning if they do not have a good experience. Several options are available to address these needs:

  • Hire full-time site technology coordinators.
  • Provide a tech-savvy teacher with two free periods per day to trouble-shoot technology problems.
  • Use reliable business partners or volunteer help.

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