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Device funding

A common question when thinking about a 1:1 device or BYOD programme is – how will the devices be funded?

Successful 1:1 device programmes require sustained investment that goes beyond the devices alone.

Funding may be needed for things like:

  • the physical learning environment
  • IT infrastructure and support
  • insurance
  • device replacement and repairs
  • software licensing
  • digital resource and curriculum development
  • professional development.

There can also be a considerable investment of time.

Initial capital investment may be able to be funded from savings, charitable grants, community fundraising, parent contributions, partnerships, or top-up grants under your school property plan. Ongoing operational costs could be spread across the budget, in areas such as:

  • ICT
  • curriculum development
  • textbook/learning resources
  • facilities maintenance.

You may be able to offset costs with savings from the use of technology, for instance:

  • free online resources
  • the government-funded N4L managed network
  • replacing school computers with student-owned computers
  • more efficient communications and administration processes.

The Education Act 1989 provides NZ students with the right to a free education. Families can not be required to provide devices, and students can not be denied access to learning opportunities because they do not have the recommended equipment. Read more on the Ministry of Education website, Education circular 2018–01 Payments by parents of students . Consider how to provide equitable learning opportunities for all students: will you offer temporary loan devices, a subsidy scheme, or fully funded devices for students?

Common device ownership options are:

A combination of approaches will work for some communities.

Devices provided by the school

Every learner and member of staff has access to a device, that is either leased or purchased by the school. Allowing these devices to be taken home fulfills a need to promote learning beyond the classroom in conjunction with parents and the extended school community.

Some advantages of school-provided devices include:

  • ensures equitable access to a device for every student
  • greater ability to configure, supervise and maintain devices
  • uniformity of systems and software, providing a standard experience for users and less complexity for teachers and IT support staff
  • access to bulk buying discounts, for example All of Government procurement
  • can guarantee device insurance and indemnity (repair) coverage, and potentially get better terms than individually
  • ability to lease or buy devices, and plan for technology updates to suit the schools' Asset Management Plan.

Some disadvantages are:

  • greater funding is required from the school (but could be supplemented with community contributions)
  • greater responsibility and time involved for the school in device procurement, licensing, fleet management and support
  • students may not take as much care of the devices when they don’t have to pay for them, leading to higher device repair/replacement costs
  • families technology preferences may not be catered for, or existing devices not able to be utilised
  • if devices are only used at school, learning opportunities are not extended beyond the classroom.
Devices provided by the student

"Bring your own technology (BYOT) is an educational development and a supplementary school technology resourcing model, where the home and the school collaborate in arranging for students' 24/7 use of their own digital technology/ies to be extended into the classroom, and in so doing to assist their teaching and learning and the organisation of their schooling and, where relevant, the complementary education outside the classroom."(Lee & Levins, 2012)

Some advantages of student-provided devices are:

  • students have been shown to take better care of their devices when they own them, meaning device repairs are lower and fewer loaner devices are required
  • families may not need to spend money, if their existing device can be used
  • students/families have more say in the device/expenditure that meets their needs
  • devices are able to be used outside of school, extending learning opportunities
  • greater ability for students to personalise their devices to meet their needs.

Some disadvantages are:

  • some families may not be able to afford devices, creating equity issues
  • inequities between what students’ devices can do, depending on whether the school specifies types of devices/minimum requirements
  • potentially greater variation in operating environments and applications, creating more complexity for teachers and IT administrators
  • less ability for the school to configure, supervise and maintain devices, potentially creating internet safety and network security issues
  • less consistency in device insurance and repair arrangements, leading to more downtime around device breakages/increased requirement for loaned devices.
Devices provided through a community partnership

Some school communities are working in partnerships that use a separate legal entity, such as a trust, to fund or lease digital devices, internet connectivity and online learning resources. The partnership may source funding and bulk-buying discounts to provide families with more affordable devices and support. Parents can contribute an ongoing sum to pay for the device and/or internet connection at home. See school stories for examples .

Some advantages of community partnership funding are:

  • increased equity and affordability, as costs can be shared by the school, parents and partners
  • potentially better pricing and terms due to bulk buying
  • greater impacts when the partnership includes wider community initiatives (for example, social sector trials , internet access at home)
  • trust model mitigates legal issues for school around debt financing or re-selling devices
  • greater consistency in device insurance and repair arrangements (when this is part of the scheme), leading to less downtime around device breakages/reduced requirement for loan devices.

Some disadvantages are:

  • complexities/time/cost involved in setting-up the partnership, if it doesn’t exist
  • ongoing resource commitment and need for expertise in managing a financing/device leasing programme, possibly outside the school's field of expertise
  • greater responsibility and time involved in device procurement, licensing, fleet management and support
  • likelihood of repayment defaults (possibly 15-25%) means that money will be needed to underwrite the ongoing losses
  • user choice may be limited if the partnership involves lock-in to a particular technology provider.

Debt financing

Under the Crown Entities Act and Education Act, school boards can only enter into certain types of securities. There are two main types of securities – debt securities and equity securities. In general terms, a debt security is a right to be paid money that has been lent to someone else. Schools may not acquire debt securities other than with approved NZ financial institutions and public securities. This means that schools cannot lend money to the school community or establish a school-run device hire purchase scheme. 

All-of-Government procurement

By harnessing the collective buying power of over 200 State sector agencies and 2,500 schools, the Government is able to achieve substantial cost savings, provide productivity gains for schools and suppliers, and ultimately improve competitiveness.

Schools can purchase desktops, laptops and tablets from a choice of 6 suppliers, offering Windows, Android, and Apple based solutions. Nominated Third Party Agents can purchase and service equipment on your behalf.

Schools can also purchase mobile, voice and data services, and print devices, with estimated savings of 15-40%. Read more on the All of Government website

School stories

Partnerships with school clusters

Using the Virtual Learning Network as part of a blended professional learning model
Twelve schools in Porirua form the PEG Cluster. They collaborate through their cluster group in VLN. Resources, which are used and shared at face-to-face workshops and in face-to-face meetings, are made available to teachers to re-visit and re-use.

Parents/school, community, students

Manaiakalani Project
The Manaiakalani Project is the education plan for a multi-agency long term government project to renew the larger area of Tamaki in Auckland. The Manaiakalani Project is working with teachers to develop a digital age pedagogical framework to deliver the curriculum to the students from Year 1-13. The students are being offered the opportunity to own personal netbook devices and wireless internet access is being offered across the community to enable the students to continue working from home. Parent and agency education involvement with this project is important. See Partners and supporters for information on the organisations partnering with this cluster.

A perfect partnership
In this Interface magazine article, Rosehill College outlines their partnership with the school community, a local retailer, Work and Income, and charities to ensure that all Year 9 students can access a digital device. After careful consideration and consultation with the community, Rosehill College included Chromebooks as a required stationery item. Parents who cannot afford to fully fund a device themselves can seek assistance from Work and Income.


Community discussions

Join the groups in the VLN to participate in the discussions.

BYOD in schools group  – an active community group in the VLN Groups social network that connects schools across NZ on the BYOD journey

BYOD group  – a collection of interesting discussions and readings from NZ educators
-Insurance in BYOD schools

Enabling e-Learning: Leadership group
-Purchasing Chromebooks for 1:1 computing