Friday, October 3, 2008

Creating a Computer Lab

When one thinks of creating a room full of computers I'm sure an astronomical cost comes to mind! Network infrastructure aside (that's all the cables, wires and network equipment to provide internet access) a class-sized computer lab doesn't have to come with a steep price tag. Here are some resources and considerations to creating your computer lab.

Finding Desktops
  • Businesses change computers regularly. You can check with large companies in your area to see how they dispose of old technology.
  • There are also organizations (usually non-profit) that collect used computers, refurbish them, then either give away or sell them at very economical cost to schools. We have OTX-West in Oakland USD.
  • Consider a Mac lab. The upfront costs of purchasing these popular computers is more than made up for with the ease of maintenance. Include a server and with AppleTalk's built-in capabilities you can control every computer from the server. Once everything is working you decide how to manage the costs of upgrading (I'm of the opinion that once it's working you don't mess it up until you absolutely have to; others believe in immediately upgrading because of security risks.)
Finding Software
  • Open Source and Freeware software is the way to minimize software costs. There are open source equivalents to almost every commercially available software package. Be sure to test the software for viruses, malware and advertisements.
  • Shareware is just like freeware except the designers ask for a small nominal fee to cover some sort of costs.

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