It is that time of year again and parents are probably a little concerned about all the items on the back to school shopping list this time of year. Our kids need new outfits, new pens and those good ‘ole No. 2 pencils, books, notebooks and now...netbooks (or Chromebooks, if you prefer).
Preference and price are two of the many factors driving choices made by schools, parents, students and manufacturers alike. In a recent Wall Street Journal report, Taiwanese personal computer maker Acer, Inc. announced they’ll be moving away from Microsoft products and towards Android and Chromebook devices. Companies, like individuals, understand the need to save money, that’s why the Google-based devices starts our 8 Ways to Save on Back to School Technology.
1. Chromebooks Offer Great Value. Starting at $199, you can have a personal wireless device that is simple and easy to use. No doubt that iPads are great devices, but as kids move from middle school into high school and college, they’ll benefit from a device that handles browsing and applications as easily as it handles word processing.
2. Check on Your School’s Wireless Network. If you’re planning on investing $530 on a brand new iPad that your child will be to school as part of any BYOD program, make sure the school they are attending has a wireless network that allows for devices operating on both 2.4ghz and 5ghz. Some older school wireless networks may not have a solution that allows for the newer devices operating on 5ghz only. “Gently used” iPads or other wireless devices can always be found at a reduced price online or in your neighborhood.
3. Set Your Budget and Stick to It. “Sorry Johnny, you really don’t need the 64 GB version of the iPad.” Seriously Johnny, you’re not going to be carrying your entire iTunes library to school with you anyways. Just throttle your pre-teen down by explaining that most schoolwork can be stored “in the cloud” and edited at home or wherever they can access a secure wireless network. That 16 GB version will save a few hundred dollars.
4. Do You Really Need the Warranty & Support? The big box stores are great at giving “free” advice on which devices to purchase, but then comes the checkout counter and, “Would you like the Big Box Store Warranty in addition?” Now, you’re in a line that’s 5 deep behind you and you’re probably not going to want to answer “NO” but not informed enough to answer “SURE”. Do your research before going to the big box store to see what’s included in their add-on.
5. FREE Apps are FREE, Until...They Are Not. Make sure the application you’re loading onto that device “does what it’s supposed to do” under the guise of being FREE. Some applications will only allow certain features to be activated when you download the FREE portion, so read up on the reviews before installing.
6. Don’t Go Coo-Coo for Cool Accessories. Keep the focus on the intended technological solution. What are you buying this wireless device for? How long do you expect it to last in your student’s backpack or purse? A case and maybe a screen protector should be about the only 2 extra accessories that are needed. Make sure it’s a case that’s durable, because kids do drop things and things do break. But while you’re investing a few hundred bucks, make sure the device is still operating at the Christmas Break (no pun intended).
7. BYOD Can Result in Serious Savings. Going back to those Chromebooks for a minute, the folks at Google even include a savings calculator that your school district might review. Again, not only do consumers want to save money, school districts might benefit from reviewing all costs that could be associated with a full 1:1 deployment vs. implementation of a very secure BYOD plan.
8. Security Means Safe Passwords. It’s a really “old school” free tip, but it’s worth repeating. There’s nothing more affordable than a complicated password to your student’s personal or school-provided device. Granted, someone might have limited access to your password, in the unlikely event that it needs to be recovered. So, maybe don’t use the same password for your school account and your personal bank account.
Hopefully by using some of these tips you can get more bang for your buck. As our world becomes increasingly more mobile, it programs like BYOD become more like a requirement rather than just a cool trend. If your school hasn’t implemented a 1:1 or BYOD strategy, you might want to start really considering it. We have helped schools all over the country implement successful mobility solutions, so we are here to share our expertise and help in any way we can. You can contact us here for a free consultation. Good luck!