This page is designed to give you a few pointers on developing your Equipment List. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve had some experience developing my own equipment list and have really considered the revisions that should be made. Really, the topics here are basically common sense- I just wanted to give a starting point for thinking about how to determine what your needs are for your program.
Here’s the main things to consider:
- Your Budget– How much do you have to spend?
- Your Community– What skills are valuable to your students and community?
- Your Teacher– What is the experience and personality of your Teacher?
- Your Student Body– What are the age and previous experience of your Students to Technology?
Obviously, the Big Dollar is the most important consideration when developing your equipment list. You have a finite budget. You have to consider what is most important. My personal recommendation is that you spend your budget on good equipment and software and save money on curriculum. Buying those “Curriculum Packages” that have the computer and software all installed with a curriculum attached is a bad idea, in my opinion. They generally use sub-standard computers, sub-standard software and hardware, and the curriculum is generally written so that “any student can be successful.” If any student can be successful, then many students won’t be challenged. By definiton, a curriculum that any student can do only challenges the lowest performing student. Don’t waste too much money on these curriculum packages- keep the funds available for high quality hardware and software.
During the summer before my program opened, we created a team of industry professionals, technical instructors, and experienced technology teachers to ensure the highest level of academic and technical learning. This collaborative effort involved everything from the software and hardware picked for the classroom to the focus and specifications for the student projects. We contacted local corporations like the Sun Sentinel Newspaper, LinkNET Incorporated, and Moll Industries to make sure that the tools used in our lab were identical to those used in “the real world” whenever possible. Instructors from the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale and University of South Florida were consulted and involved in developing the curriculum. Our goal was to be sure that students would be exposed to the same professional, industry-standard tools and materials that they would encounter in secondary school as well as in industry. We avoided “educational” software and reference materials and created a virtual corporation in the classroom. Even the furniture was custom-designed to give the lab a “design center” feel. We wanted our students to be prepared for working alongside adults, many of whom are currently employed in industry, when the time came to enter the technical courses.
Another important consideration when developing your program’s equipment list is the instructor. Does he/she have any particular preferences that do not compromise the integrity of the value of the program to the school? For example, if you were considering the software for Desktop Publishing and the local publishers were using Quark, but your teacher has a few year’s experience with InDesign, it would make the teacher much more comfortable without compromising the instructional integrity of the class to use InDesign (besides, I think it’s a better app!!). That’s just a wise decision. Every Tech Ed teacher has a lot to learn when they get to a new lab, so if you can lighten the load a little, they will have less to learn and will be able to help the students more. If you have no idea who the teacher will be, I still recommend purchasing the most inexpensive curriculum you can find, and allow the teacher to do some research and find what materials they are most comfortable using in the lab. Of course, if the teacher wants to use “PrintShop 10 Deluxe” to teach Desktop Publishing, stop looking for equipment and begin a search for a more qualified teacher.
Lastly, it’s important to consider your student body. What projects are your students interested in? Take a random sampling of the students in your school and find out what they would be interested in. Grab a bunch of catalogs from the vendors and let the students look through them and pick what sounds interesting. Try to avoid projects that don’t relate to your students. If they’re not interested in the projects, they will be less likely to participate in the projects with enthusiasm. If you’re in an inner-city school, projects related to farming and agriculture may not be as effective as projects related to Design and architecture. Your students are your clients- Listen to them.