You have money, what's next? Get your equipment!

    Many of the questions about technology that schools or districts must answer concern the types and amounts of equipment and infrastructure that a school has. Schools and districts need to count and keep track of hardware in order to answer such questions.
  1. Is equipment present in instructional settings?
  2. Is equipment available for use by students?
  3. Is equipment available for use by teachers?
  4. Is equipment available for use by administrators and support staff?
  5. Does the infrastructure have the capacity to support the school's technology needs?

Answering these questions is essential to define finance issues in schools.

Defining Finance Terms and Categories for Technology in Schools

Computer equipment refers to both computers and associated peripheral equipment, such as:
  • computers, including desktop and laptop machines, but extending to hand-held computers (also known as Personal Digital Assistants, or PDAs), mainframe machines, and other specialized computing devices; and
  • peripheral equipment that may be attached to computers, such as monitors, keyboards, disk drives, modems, printers, scanners, cameras, and speakers.

Other technology resources in the school setting are also included, such as:

  • network devices-routers, hubs, switches, access servers;
  • communications support, such as fax-back and voice-mail resources in regular use by instructional and administrative staff;
  • videoconferencing and other distance education tools, including satellite transmitters and receivers, cable-based receivers, and modem or codec-based video equipment;
  • projection devices, from transparent and opaque projectors to video monitors; and
  • graphing calculators and other specialized computational aids.
The term infrastructure covers both devices and cabling. Devices supporting technology in schools include specialized equipment (such as switches, routers, modems, or codecs) that link computers or video hardware to networks. Infrastructure also refers to cabling, whether wire, fiber optic, or coaxial. In newer systems, links between computers are wireless, in which case infrastructure refers to receivers and transmitters.

For schools to use technology, they must first have it and make it available for students, teachers, and administrative staff. Acquiring that technology, from computers to modems to two-way conferencing equipment, is only one step in facilitating student learning. Curriculum integration and professional development are also essential components in this process.