Identify Your District’s Current Technology Reality - Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

Identify Your District’s Current Technology Reality

Identify Your District’s Current Technology Reality

Engage your instructional leaders and conduct an analysis of your current status to build clarity and understanding about what the school district already has in place. During the COVID pandemic, schools were flooded with mobile devices and other technology, some of which still remains unopened in storage closets, as well as software, apps, and online tools. Taking a full assessment of the district’s current inventory, how those devices and supplemental resources are used, and how often they are used will help you uncover best practices and high use and also identify items of low use that should be sunset in the future.

Divide the district’s various technology into categories such as:

  • User devices, including student and staff mobile devices and desktops
  • Classroom A/V (display and sound)
  • Production equipment (printers/MFCs, servers)
  • Supplies and accessories (cases, parts, repairs)
  • Network equipment
  • Data center equipment
  • Professional learning for staff
  • Licenses and subscriptions

The technology department should have an inventory of current devices used by students and teachers in a robust asset management system that provides the details of the devices, including the specific make and model of the device, the date purchased (age), and funding sources. Remember that there may be restrictions or special conditions that follow some purchases depending on the funding source. Title purchases usually have language that outlines what the technology can be used for and special rules regarding its lifecycle. The district should have a technology inventory for classroom displays and sound, an internet access plan for both on and off campus, and behind-the-scenes systems of support like user directory management, single sign-on, data system management, hardware maintenance processes, etc. All need to be documented when the current reality is assessed, as this starting point will serve as your baseline when you measure and report on how your district technology inventory has grown and changed through time.

Also note and document the current status of the systems and people who support the technology.

Some school districts allocate the amount of time IT support personnel spend at different schools in the district by calculating how many devices need support at the site. Other districts may allocate IT support based on how many staff and students are at schools within the district. Knowing how many devices and technologies are at each school as well as the school population will assist you in allocating the right amount of IT support to each site. The same method could be applied when calculating technology instructional support needs for each school in the district.

Your intentionality in IT support allocations can help further sustain your IT program by delivering the support needed in a timely manner before frustration sets in about non-functioning devices and the shelving of technology resources because they don’t work. Investing in the people by building their IT capacity can provide immediate and long-term support.

The CoSN Total Cost of Ownership
Technology Federal Funds

Don’t forget to identify and consider the time and human resources it takes to build the following:

  • Policies and procedures
  • Budget alignment
  • Communication and the management of technological change throughout the district

With ongoing changes in the edtech landscape, there will need to be time devoted for updating these systems, managing the change that goes along with systems upgrades, and aligning with student outcomes and programs.

Keep the related and required supports for the existing technology top of mind as you plan forward. It is essential in reducing any costly surprises down the road.

Thinking About the Lifecycle of Technology

As you are assessing your current reality, it is important to include and consider the life expectancy of all aspects of hardware or support systems so that their replacements can be included in the long-range lifecycle plans.

  • Consider how systems or hardware may be optimized. Do any of your current systems have features that you have not used or “turned on” that could be saving you time or money?
  • Are there newer systems or hardware that offer streamlined solutions that consolidate what is being done by multiple systems or pieces of hardware?
  • Do you have systems or hardware not being used as frequently as anticipated? If so, consider what would happen if they were not replaced in the next upgrade round.
  • How can major purchases be staggered to establish a budget that maintains a consistent level each year, rather than having peaks and valleys?

Any of these tactics could help in reducing what is carried over to the next iteration of planning. Freed-up budget money could be reallocated and invested into longer-term sustainable and systemic improvements.

Repairs and Items that Need Replacement

Do you have a high number of hardware items in need of repair or replacement? Have device protection contracts lived up to your expectations?

  • Is it easy to create claims?
  • Is the time it takes to repair your items reasonable?
  • Is the price of the coverage in line with the cost of the devices?
  • Is there a good line of communication between your district and solution provider so that you may track the repairs on a device?
  • Has your process for collecting broken devices, sending devices for repair, and returning devices to schools kept a working device in the hands of students daily?

Now is the time to evaluate your outsourced device protection plans to determine if the process has been beneficial and utilized. If it hasn’t been utilized, why not? By reviewing the data from your device repair solution provider, you should be able to determine whether the investment has proven to be effective. If it has not been effective, now is the time to explore why and to make decisions to continue the device protection program or move away from it.


Will the hardware and supports you’re considering take up space? For instance, if students receive 1:1 devices, will you be collecting and storing them during the summer? Where will that be? Will it be secure and will the temperature and humidity be controlled? Are you repairing district devices internally? If so, your team will need space for their work and for storage of parts. Their space should be large enough to store items for intake and to stage items ready to be distributed back to the schools. Considerations such as tools needed to do repairs, adequate heat and light for the workspace, and electrical receptacles needed are all factors that are part of assessing current reality and defining future state needs.


It will take human power to support the devices, software, or professional learning. Will your technical staff be repairing devices or will you send devices out to be repaired? Is it more effective to have dedicated IT at each school? In what ways can you partner with the district educational technology team, teaching and learning staff, and instructional coaches to provide training at the district and site to ensure that technology and systems are effective and efficient? Have you added student tech teams to support the technical work? Even sending devices out for repair requires personnel for documenting issues, preparing the devices to be sent, and receiving and redistributing repaired devices.


Your technology team most likely has a calendar of tasks that need to be completed for the start of school, during the school year, end-of-year procedures, etc. Is there time for your existing staff to take on new work that comes with retooling of a technology plan? Will you have many projects taking place at once? How will you manage the time and personnel it takes to execute each project? Resources may be rich, but when time is used inefficiently, the impact of those resources may be negated.

Identifying and documenting the resources required to support the hardware and software systems is critical. The result is a thorough, full-picture assessment of your technology landscape. Learn more in Total Cost of Ownership.

Some successful school districts have created a “Standards List,” an internal catalog of district-authorized devices and peripherals that schools can purchase with their funds. By limiting and standardizing what schools can purchase with their site-based or program funds, the Standards List guarantees that the new purchases fit into the current ecosystem of the school district. Sometimes there is an internal approval process for seeking authorization for purchases, and district IT leaders include sustainability elements in the approval system. For example, if a school wants to get a 3D printer from Donors Choose, before the IT department authorizes the accepting of the printer, they have the school leader document how they will maintain and sustain the item. The agreement includes:

  • Curricular connection for the item (for example, how will the 3D printer support learning?)
  • Research and documentation of the product to determine it is of acceptable quality and compatible with existing systems, and identification of any additional costs that may be incurred
  • The funding source and lifecycle of the funding source
  • Replacement and repair cycle with the acknowledgment that the site is taking on the financial responsibility of the maintenance and replacement of the printer
  • Location and storage of the 3D printer
  • Who is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the printer
  • Any building modifications needed to accommodate the new printer (sometimes items require an increase in amperage and 110v needs to be rewired to 220v)
  • Who is responsible for learning how to use the printer and teaching others in the building
  • Signatures of approvers from cross-functional individuals, such as:
    • Building principal
    • Primary sponsor/acceptor of the donation
    • Library/media specialist/tech lab supervisor (if they are helping to support it)
    • Department chair
    • District curriculum department
    • IT leader of the district

Establishing up front who is responsible for caring for and funding the sustainability of the donated item eliminates confusion and a sudden end of life of items in the future.

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