One of the biggest mistakes schools make when they order equipment is that they do not budget for hardware upgrades, optional accessories, licensing requirements, and services that are in-fact not optional for success.
Here is a pattern of thought you should use when looking to buy a solution, or looking to reduce a budget.
- Computers- Laptops, Desktops, Hand Helds, etc are completely useless machines that have no value in and of themselves.
- Value is first derived from having all the software needed to run a class or complete a project, software is in fact more valuable than hardware.
- Software is useful only if the user can connect to it and use it to create or manipulate data.
- Connecting to software often means advanced hardware integration and buying accessories such as scanners, firewire cables, video/audio capture cards, card readers, drawing tablets, accurate laser mice, large screens, advanced video graphics cards, etc.
- The computer with software and all the proper additional hardware is still useless unless the environment it is in is condusive to the work being done. Not all spaces can serve as work spaces, and not all spaces need to be private or quiet.
When looking for a solution or talking to someone about new technology, make sure to ask the following questions:
What do we already have to allocate to this solution?
What kind of software does this project require?
a. Is the software open source? If not have you search for an open-source solution?
b. Is the software an annual license or can we own it out-right?
c. Is there an educational discount, and do we qualify?
What additional hardware do we need? Have you looked into the accessories needed such as special cables, input devices, etc?
If this is a multimedia project and you are working with cameras of any kind have you confirmed the cameras we currently own will work with the solutions you are looking at?
What benefit does this have in terms of learning over the current solution we have?
What benefit does this have in terms of administration and time usage over the current solution we have?
Will adopting this solution create a significant strain on the training/ professional development budget?
Do we need a consultant to implement the solution?
Would you say this solution is modern and meeting curriculum and IT industry standards at similar institutions? If yes please give examples.
Do you know anyone or any place that has implemented this solution? If ‘Yes’ have you consulted with them on their experiences?
I find this flow of questioning reduced the excitement that often surrounds new projects and helps me focus on the true foundation of the project and its implementation.
More from Tony DePrato here.