Make your lendable devices student-ready | Dec18 Newsletter
Education and technology are tightly linked, meaning it’s important for schools to ensure all students have access to the hardware they need to participate in all class activities. Device policies vary from school to school but in many cases, the institution will provide a fleet of laptops, tablets or other devices for students to borrow as needed.
It’s great for the students but managing a fleet of lendable systems brings with it some serious demands and responsibilities. Here are our top five considerations:
Inputs: How easy is it for students to get information into the device – does it have (or does it need) a keyboard, stylus, trackpad or other method?
Outputs: How rich is the information students get back (sound, quality of visuals, haptic feedback)?
Use case: Will students use the device as an ‘all-purpose’ textbook, internet access and device and workstation, or will it mainly be used to access cloud-based or other online educational resources?
Governance: How will the device be managed, in terms of physical and cyber security, as well as protecting its value and ability to generate good student outcomes?
Hygiene: How will the device(s) be cleaned and maintained – again, in terms of both physical and data hygiene?
Inputs and outputs
When it comes to getting information into a device, there’s still little that beats a physical keyboard, and typing is a useful skill for students to acquire. At the same time, if students will be working primarily with video or other rich media, a touch screen or stylus input can be a very effective way of interacting with the device and the content. Consider their needs to ensure you buy only the peripherals that will see plenty of use.
Learning in the cloud
All devices need to include the latest networking standards (802.11ac at time of writing) and enough storage to hold a modest amount of files locally. Regardless of the specific services used, cloud storage is a good option for schools as it allows for easy data recovery and simplifies data security.
It’s common practice to restrict school devices’ ability to access the entire internet, and also to limit the devices to staff-installed software. This is critical for network safety and mobile device management frameworks can now serve tablets as well as laptops. Security practices should also be carefully considered, keeping in mind that the devices will be used by students (not necessarily adults).
A clean computer is a safe computer
Device hygiene is vital in relatively closed environments like schools. Consider purchasing storage and recharge cabinets that contain UV lights for disinfecting your tablets and laptops, and make disinfectant wipes and sprays readily available in classrooms and libraries.
Data hygiene is equally important; your device management platform should allow you to remotely control (and, if necessary, wipe) all devices in your fleet.
Either tablets or laptop computers can form the basis of a device-based lending library in a school setting, which is a great way to ensure all students have access to modern technology and online information sources. By working with educators to determine the device’s mission and best use case, IT teams can choose the device that best fits the mission and help the student body achieve better educational outcomes.