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New Web Tool Calculates Tech Costs

As anyone who buys computers and related education technology knows, calculating true costs is confusing. Sure, it is easy enough to look at the retail price for, say, 1,000 new laptops and estimate the total a district will spend on the hardware. But school districts rarely calculate the not-so-obvious electricity costs, or the amount of staff hours (and salary) that should be allocated for training others and maintaining the new technology. Now, two K12 technology groups are offering the K12 TCO Calculator. This free online tool automatically evaluates the true cost of technology and gives a five-year spending projection.

Technology coordinators and others using the calculator must first answer an extensive questionnaire that covers all related expenses-obvious and otherwise. Users may have to review electricity bills, salaries for technology staff, projected hardware and software purchases and other details. But once these financial details are filled in, the calculator will automatically calculate all related technology spending and issue a downloadable report. The report is also designed for school board presentations, say its developers.

The calculator is a joint project of the Integrated Technology Group and the Advancement of Emerging Technologies in Education group.