Thursday, December 10, 2009

Affording the Revolution

"The digital revolution is pricey."

That's what we keep hearing. So, I set out into the Twitterverse today to get an idea of what schools were really paying for tech.

Specifically, I wanted to know how much it would cost to put broadband in a school in the good ol' USA.

Didn't count the cost of computers, no auxilary costs, no extra staffing. Just the cost of taking a bare building and getting it up and wired.

Prices for laying the pipe seemed to be in the five to ten thousand dollar range (depending on circumstance and locale). And the monthly plans ranged between $2500 and $3K a month.

So, for roughly $40,000 one could estimate getting a building wired.

That's a lot of dough.

And then I started to think about what that $40,000 really represents.

Back when I started this blog, I did an evaluation of our school's paper and printing budget. And for a school of about 850 kids and 100 faculty and staff, we spent an annual $25,000 on materials, repairs, and licenses. (And we're a 1:1 school).

That doesn't count the thousands spent on Microsoft licenses, email servers, and other tech stuff replaceable by open source and cloud-based alternatives.

And then there is the matter of textbooks. Whenever I hear someone naysay 1:1 computing costs, I ask them to compare the price of Ubuntu netbooks to the annual costs of textbooks and textbook replacement.

Folks, it's really all about the reallocation of resources.

You have the funds. We have the means. It's just a matter of getting past the fear and setting our priorities to meet the fundamental demands of the 21st century.


  1. I agree. Our school already has a broadband internet connection and WiFi. I'm trying to get them to dump the MS licenses and go with free/cheaper things like Google Apps. I'm also trying to show them the savings they will get if they get rid of paper and textbooks and go to 1:1 computing with netbooks. I have some allies, but we are fighting an uphill battle. Many of our staff and admin print emails!!! They will email a memo to all staff and then put a printed copy in our mailboxes! ARGH!!

    Not only would it save money (and paper resources) but think of how much time teachers spend standing in front of copiers. If I did all of my tests on Google Docs, I would have not copying time and a lot less space needed to store the papers. Creating portfolios would be much easier too.

    It is a win-win situation. We just have to convince others of it.

  2. One of the administrators at my school spent about three frantic days trying to figure out what had happened to about twenty filing cabinets that held the school academic records and archives from 1950 to 1990. I don't know whether she ever found them or not. It horrified her to think that forty years of grades and information was absent from school property. Even the knowledge that the alumni office still had contact data for about 70% of the students wasn't enough.

    I guess the stuff was eventually tracked down, and resecured against future loss or forgetfulness, but really... No one even noticed that four decades of records were missing until she happened to be in a storeroom and counted the filing cabinets. No one had gone looking for anything; there were just fewer file drawers than there should have been.


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