Managing the Total Cost of Ownership for K-12 Devices

Learn how to better manage the costs of K-12 devices here.

Part 1 in Our Series on Managing Device Costs

School districts are being challenged to leverage innovative digital curriculum models with the latest technology, yet education funding is being cut back, increasing the competition for limited funding dollars. IT leaders often spend so much time dealing with “issues” with new technology that no time is left to focus on achieving new education vision. It is clear that IT leaders need more tools to manage the costs and complexities of 1-to-1 programs.

Estimating the Cost of 1-to-1 Programs

Many school districts underestimate the ongoing costs and complexities of managing 1-to-1 programs in schools: the cost of purchasing devices, upgrading infrastructure, setting up charging stations, and software licensing.

Beyond these tangible hardware and software costs, school districts need to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO), which includes the maintenance, support, training, and user productivity issues associated with onboarding and maintaining a comprehensive new curriculum model.

“Many people don’t understand that over half the cost of technology ownership is indirect,” notes Leslie Fiering, Gartner analyst in an article for EdTech Magazine. The CoSN TCO Assessment tool helps technology leaders understand the true costs of device ownership, which can then be used as a baseline to find areas to focus cost reduction strategies.

How to Manage Technology Costs

School districts can explore a variety of solutions to offload costs or eliminate some of the “waste” in technology management that leads to higher TCO for 1-to-1 programs:


BYOD programs can jump start learning by leveraging existing device familiarity while allowing schools to save on technology purchasing cycles. Many schools focus remaining funds on purchasing or leasing devices for those students in need.


Leasing can help eliminate the purchase cycle for new technology, leading to a more regular monthly cost, as long as other factors are carefully considered.

Develop a device replacement strategy

Older devices increase maintenance costs and downtime, reducing classroom productivity and ultimately increasing TCO. For many school districts, earlier replacement can actually reduce TCO.

Support professional learning

Regular training and professional development for teachers and for IT staff can help increase productive time, improve student learning, and reduce service issues.

Consider funding alternatives

Many school districts or classrooms are leveraging ‘crowdfunding’ and private sponsorship to fund new technology purchases, helping offset some of the costs.

Bring Classroom Management to the Classroom

Modern classroom management solutions seamlessly connect teachers with students under 1:1 and BYOD programs and across multiple devices. Teachers can push out new apps, share content to all devices, and reduce administrative tasks.

Leverage Self-Service

Allow users to download pre-approved software and documents to reduce IT department tasks and allow for on-demand learning opportunities.

Simplify Management Tasks

A unified platform to manage devices and applications streamlines endpoint management, improves compliance, and automates many routine tasks such as patch management and group-based application deployment (such as deploying an app to just one classroom).

Shrinking IT budgets are not unique to education. In Part 2 in this series, we will explore how enterprises are managing the rising costs of technology and the complexities of managing technology lifecycles.

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