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Important considerations

When carrying out an educational and infrastructure needs assessment, the following factors need to be considered:

  • Educational goals – What educational goals will be accomplished by integrating technology into the classroom?
  • Professional development – Do the teachers know how to use the technology? Even more importantly, do they know how to teach with them; how to integrate them into classroom learning? Teachers clearly play a pivotal role in maximizing the educational benefit of tools such as radios, televisions and computers. Will teachers need extra training to use this technology? Will administrative and management staff also require training? Will the technology itself be used to train teachers? If so, teachers may need to be given special access to the technology. Time and resources need to be set aside to enable teachers and other staff to learn to utilize their new tools.
  • Students per classroom – What is the average number of students per classroom, and what is the expected growth of the school population over time? The number of students will affect how much equipment is required now and in the future and how many teachers are needed (and how many will require training). These factors must be taken into account when considering the long-term costs of obtaining new technological tools.
  • Special needs or disabled students – Will special needs/disabled students be able to benefit from the technological tools? Do special arrangements need to be made for them to access or use the equipment?
  • Funding resources – How much money is available to purchase and install the equipment, train teachers and staff, buy peripheral equipment and educational resources, support, maintain and use the equipment? Is there a budget for ongoing maintenance, upgrading aging systems and technical support? Clearly, financial considerations are central when deciding what tools to obtain. While funds to purchase/install equipment and initial training may come out of national/state budgets, funds for maintenance and running costs are usually expected to be provided by schools or local governments. In that case, it may be necessary to put in place special fund-raising programs, such as offering the computers for commercial use after school hours, or soliciting the help of local businesses.
  • Electrical infrastructure – What is the availability, quality and cost of electricity in the school or learning centre? How is the wiring distributed throughout the building? Inconsistent, discontinuous voltage can be highly disruptive and even damaging to electronic equipment. Existing wiring may not be the correct gauge to withstand the additional load of connecting new equipment to the school’s system, or may be made of materials which oxidize over time and can become a fire hazards. If electricity services are not currently installed, some schools may choose solar power as a power source.
  • Other physical conditions – What are the sizes and shapes of classrooms? What is the quality of natural/electric lighting? What types of furniture are available? Are telephone lines present throughout the school? Will special climatic considerations need to be dealt with in order to keep the equipment in good working order (e.g. extreme aridity/humidity or heat/cold)? 
  • Physical security – How secure are the schools and rooms in which the technologies are to be installed? Security can be costly. Security plans must also consider a balance between protecting against theft, and allowing flexible and easy access. Fear of being blamed for damaging or losing of equipment has been shown to restrict actual use of ICT during class time.
  • Technical support and management - What strategies will be developed to provide support, maintenance, and management of ICT and peripheral equipment? This concern has serious financial implications. The importance of technical support cannot be underestimated, especially in  areas where the local population has little technological training.

Special considerations regarding computer based technology:

  • Movement of students throughout the school –Do students move around from class to class throughout the school day or stay in one room? This factor should be considered when deciding whether to set up computer labs, or to install computers within classrooms.

  • Climate –Will rooms need to be air-conditioned or sealed against excessive dust or humidity? Computers can generate a lot of heat. Lack of ventilation can make the study areas uncomfortable, and in extreme cases, even lead to computer malfunctions. Open windows, however, can let in potentially damaging dust or humidity and pose a security risk.

  • Networking - Will the computers be installed as stand-alone units or linked together to form local area network (LAN)? While creating a LAN can have great educational benefits, its creation has financial and infrastructural effects that need to be taken into account.

  • Student-to-computer ratio – How much computer and internet access is to be offered per student, and how many students (both per class and students in total) will need to use it? What frequency and duration of use for students in different disciplines will be required? You will need to answer these questions when planning out how many computers your institution will need to procure and what kind of set up will be appropriate.

  • Community use – Will the computers be made available for use by the local community after school hours? Often, the high costs of investing in computer equipment can be balanced by offering the facilities to the public at a small fee. If this is part of the school plan, then staff, security and configuration issues will need to be considered.

  • Internet connectivity – Will the computers be connected to the Internet? If so, what kind of connection is possible and affordable? Reliability of the connection will also need to be taken into account in order for teachers to accurately plan their lessons.

  • Space and electrical issues - To avoid having to install an entirely new electrical and wiring system, many schools choose to install computers in labs to limit the amount of refurbishment necessary. Problems of inconsistent or interrupted voltage may be combated by installing line stabilizers or uninterrupted power supplies (UPS’s) that normalize the voltage and provide a 10-20 minute window of electricity in case of power cuts so work can be saved and computers safely closed down. Also extremely important to remember is that computers, especially those connected to a LAN, require a grounded electrical system, which is also less costly when applied only to one or two labs as opposed to the entire structure. Computer equipment which is not grounded can be severely damaged and unsafe during strong storms. All of these considerations can considerably add to installation costs.

  • Networking - What is the cost of integrating the hardware into your existing networks, if there are any? Will the hardware work with your current network strategy? If you do not currently have a network installed, will you be doing that as well? Remember that there will need to be a fairly extensive amount of extra wiring which will need to be installed and maintained, which will also add to the cost of the project. It may be more cost effective to use a wireless network, which would required much less wiring, but may require extra security measures to prevent theft of the wireless routers. Also consider if the hardware will support future network improvements.

Key issues


  • Will your teachers or students need extra training to use the ICT equipment?
  • If so, who will provide the training?
  • How long will it take?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Do your teachers know how to integrate the ICT tools (e.g. Radio, TV, computers) into their teaching and into the curriculum?
  • If not, how much time will it take for them to become familiar with the ICT tools and how to use them effectively to enhance the learning experience?

Maintenance and support

  • Do your teachers know how to repair the ICT tools if something goes wrong?
  • If not, who will perform these functions, how long will it take, and how much will it cost?
  • Do teachers have someone to call or books to consult if they have problems in utilizing the ICT tool?
  • If not, how much would it cost to have such support available to teachers, either on a permanent basis, such as a new ICT support staff member, or on a case-by-case basis?