BETT Week: The Device Decision – Does Your School Have All the Facts?

As I meet with teachers, school leaders and policy-makers here at the BETT show 2014, I’m struck by the complexity of the decisions they’re facing. How do they know that the technology they choose for their school is right for their students? Will it stand the test of time? Will it integrate with existing technology? And importantly, will it deliver as promised?  

Here at Daily Edventures, we talk to educators every day about the outstanding learning outcomes they’ve achieved with technology, but long before they see results, difficult decisions must be made. 

That’s why Microsoft recently partnered with IDC to learn more about schools’ technology investments. The study focused specifically on PCs — desktops, laptops, and “hybrid” tablet PCs (such as the Surface). It also looked at media tablets, devices primarily designed and marketed to enable content creation and access to digital content and services.

The results are telling, if not especially surprising. The most effective devices are the ones that are powerful enough to allow students to consume information, collaborate and generate robust content – all in an easily managed, safe and secure environment.

Here’s what the study found:

  • The schools interviewed preferred PCs over tablets primarily for their ability to generate content — especially in the higher grades.
  • Although PC devices cost more than media tablets, the costs of the additional technology required for tablets to meet education needs — including management and security, maintenance and warranty, and additional bandwidth — can erase the initial cost savings.
  • The principle cost advantage of a PC is that it is optimized for organizations rather than individuals, and as such is easier to deploy and manage, making annual maintenance costs 26 percent lower than those of media tablets.
  • The schools in this study felt that the PC’s usability and fit with their educational goals more than outweighed the initial cost advantage of media tablet devices. 

According to the study, PCs are also preferred when it comes to ease of customization and the availability of software (i.e., total number of applications). We know that Microsoft Office is one of those critical applications, and are thrilled that we can provide Office 365 free to students at qualifying schools through our Student Advantage program.

Studies are great, but even better is seeing evidence that the right device decision is paying off in classrooms.  Many of the schools on our Innovative Schools World tour are using PCs and Surface devices to improve learning outcomes, including Twickenham Academy, a new Microsoft Mentor School we visited earlier this week.

As your school adopts 1:1 computing, what are you learning about device effectiveness? Does BYOD play a role? Let me know @anthonysalcito. 

  • Anthony
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