Tech and Learning

How to unlock the most value out of your tech assets and streeeetch your tech budget.

GUEST COLUMN | by Robert Baker

CREDIT Mac to SchoolIsn’t that everyone’s goal? To get more out of what you have, to maximize dollars already spent and limit funds being committed moving forward? Stretching every tech dollar further by implementing best practices for your current assets, looking at alternative sources of acquiring new assets and filling in budget gaps with creative funding are a number of ways

The easiest place to start is with your current IT assets, namely your high ticket, high volume devices like laptops, desktops and tablets. The way the assets are tagged, tracked and cared for can unlock more value than you might know and make management even easier.

Does a second-grader need a brand new iPad Air? Or could a refurbished iPad 2 at one-third of the cost be used to realize the same results?

Asset Tags

Asset tags are designed to help track and identify school assets as well as act as a theft deterrent. Try and avoid etching, permanent marker or engravings. These methods are more difficult to track (no barcode), more expensive to implement and significantly reduce if not eliminate any resale value for the device. Best practices are to utilize metallic, high-stick stickers that identify the school or district, a phone number for loss retrieval and the asset number along with a barcode that scans the number for easy inventory.

Cases

All laptops and tablets, regardless of if they are kept in carts or not, should have some sort of case. Cases significantly reduce the most costly repairs (cosmetic case and display damage) and will unlock more value when you sell or trade in your equipment. TIP: A $30 case can net back $100 more on a Mac laptop trade in, for example.

All computers and tablets should be audited yearly. A decision should be made to keep, repair or sell.

Repairs

Once your audit is complete, set aside units for repair, as well as establishing a system to track this data, for example listing the machine type, asset number and symptom (i.e., iMac 20” MC015LL/A, Asset #SV123456, flashing ? – suspect hard drive.)

Having a master list of what’s wrong with each unit will help the internal person or team as well as any external company performing repairs provide a better picture of what the costs will be to repair these units beforehand and limit unwanted surprises on the back end.

If there is no budget for repairs and you don’t anticipate any will be available within the next 6 months, you may consider selling them “as is” to unlock the most value before they become obsolete.

Selling your Equipment

If you don’t plan to use or repair existing equipment in the next six months, or you’re planning on upgrading to new or different units, you may be able to unlock funds for new purchases by selling your old equipment.

Going back to some of the items earlier I mentioned, organization and cosmetic condition play a big part in getting the most out of each device you look to sell. Engravings and an unorganized list of what you have and what may be wrong with some of the broken units will sink the amount purchasers are willing to pay. Having a detailed spreadsheet of units and having them be in the best possible cosmetic condition due to the use of cases and non-permanent asset tags will dramatically increase the amount your school or district can expect from each device.

When it comes time to add or replace devices at your school, consider some creative ways to get the technology you need for less money and less hassle.

Buy Refurbished Equipment

Buying refurbished computers and tablets can be a great way to get more devices for significantly less money. Instead of doing huge refreshes of new computers that could possibly take years to obtain approval, fill in the gaps of computers you need by exploring refurbished options. Often you can find the exact models your students are currently using which can make deployment and support a snap.

Embrace the Tiered Approach

Desktops, laptops, tablets? Which should you be using? The answer is all of them. These devices are tools that enable learning on levels once thought not possible, and as is the case with any job, it helps to have the right tools on hand. Use desktops for video editing, laptops for at the desk learning in higher grades and tablets for reading and mobile learning. Newer devices should be geared towards the higher grades and older equipment can be cycled down the grades with age. Does a second-grader need a brand new iPad Air? Or could a refurbished iPad 2 at one-third of the cost be used to realize the same results?

Fast and Easy Grants

Big districts have full time staff whose job it is to fill out and apply for grants. There are smaller, faster grant options out there to help get tech into smaller, more disadvantaged schools. If your teachers are asking for a new Apple TV for their class or something on the smaller side, have them check out fast and easy grant options like donorschoose.com There are a lot of these “kickstarter” type sites where teachers can post their own story and partner with companies to get the equipment they need.

Robert Baker is the CMO Mac to School. Contact him through their website

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