Building a new computer lab at your school can be a nightmare if you're on a tight budget. From hardware to software, everything seems to cost hundreds -- if not thousands -- of dollars that your school just doesn't have. However, if you're savvy, you can save plenty of money and set up your computer lab at a fraction of the usual cost. Here are 3 tips for building a school computer room on a budget.
Buy a Colour Multifunction Printer
Alongside computers, you can expect to use a colour printer, copier and scanner in your school's computer lab. Purchasing these items separately can be expensive. In addition, maintenance costs for three separate items can quickly mount up. One way to avoid these problems is to buy a colour multifunction printer. These all-in-one (often known as AIO) printers combine printing, copying, scanning and sometimes additional features like email and fax into one machine. Buying one piece of hardware is cheaper initially and saves on maintenance and repair costs later down the line. If you choose a high volume multifunction printer, you'll also be able to save on toner or ink costs by buying in bulk.
Use a Free Operating System & Free Software
Windows and Mac OS are not the only the only operating systems out there. Many schools are unaware of open-source operating systems -- the free OSes they can use to power their computer lab. There are multiple, community-supported open-source operating systems available, many of which can be found via a quick online search. Some developers have even created open-source systems specifically for classroom use. The same goes for software; many programs like Microsoft Office have reputable free alternatives. Using free operating systems and hardware can save thousands in licence fees, keeping your initial computer lab costs lower.
Lease Your Computers
Did you know that buying computers outright is not the only way to acquire hardware? There are now several companies on the market which lease computers to businesses and schools on a several-year contract. This rental system will allow you to set up enough computers for a whole class of students at a fraction of the usual cost, and some arrangements even include regular maintenance. You may also be able to lease other equipment like servers. While you might end up paying more money in the long run, the cost will be spread out over multiple years of school funding.