Peer pressure, pester power, performance

Do you know which devices to buy for your school? Simon Harbridge, CEO of Stone Group, shares some advice

If you’re like a lot of our customers, you’ve had in your mind what you want before you started to shop around. And it’s probably iPads.

Kids want them. Parents want them. They are a top-class pester power device and always top of the Christmas/birthday lists. If your school has a BYOD device policy, you might already have a lot in school. However, I hope that you may already have seen that there is so much more to providing effective digital learning opportunities than turning to an estate of just one type of ‘most wanted’ device. We can, and frequently do, provide iPads and other devices to our customers and they have fantastic benefits. But, sometimes, they might not be right for your teaching methodology or the subjects on your curriculum. Intuitive, lightweight and capable though they can be, they are not designed specifically for education.

Devices that are specifically designed for education, or for young people, display a myriad of innovations that pay dividends when it comes to economical and pedagogical value. They are tougher, more suited to smaller hands and fingers, and can be carried and dropped without fear. When Intel was researching the new iteration of its Classmate 3 device, which is 100% manufactured for the education market, the top teacher and student requirement was identified as portability without damage. Tablets and laptops designed with a school in mind can carry applications that are essential for pupils to be able to complete subject lessons, such as full versions of Microsoft Excel and Word. They are simple to operate and as intuitive as the consumer device equivalent, and, crucially, they are able to work in conjunction with other devices, sharing and transferring information between student and teacher, to allow for BYOD or mixed device estate situations.

It’s not that there’s no room for consumer devices like iPads in schools, there’s plenty. It’s that there’s room for other hardware too.

A school’s success is judged on its performance in the classroom and in examination results. Digital devices are absolutely, 100% crucial to that performance, to the new curriculum, and of course to student engagement.

Top tips to help make the right purchasing decisions

  • Look beyond the aesthetics of a device now – think about what it will look like after a school year and whether it is robust enough to survive that use
  • Create a list of the applications and programmes that your teaching staff expect to use in the next school year, and make a decision based on which devices can support their curriculum choices
  • Rather than making an immediate order for your chosen device, speak to your suppliers, tell them what features and functionality you need, and let them help you choose a suitable solution
  • Think about integration – how will your new investment fit together with your legacy IT hardware and current infrastructure to deliver curriculum benefits for the medium to long term?

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