It’s back to school time, and parents with children migrating from primary to high school may be in a kerfuffle trying figure out everything their child needs for a seamless integration into this new learning environment.
Many schools are now implementing a ‘bring your own device’ policy when it comes to personal laptops and tablets in the classroom. So what are you looking for? What kind of specs and which kind of technology? We take a look at your options.
Before you delve headfirst into hours of research, comparing every laptop available, make sure you carefully read your child’s school’s technology policy. This will inform you of recommended brands if they offer them, and those compatible with the school’s wifi connectivity. You will also need to know whether classes are conducted favouring a Mac or Windows operating system.
These portable computers are thin and lightweight, and enjoy all of the programs that desktop computers have to offer, depending on the amount of storage and RAM (memory) it has. Laptops come with inbuilt keyboards, and you can get particularly sturdy ones if your child is prone to dropping things or swinging their bag around!
Macbooks, especially the Macbook Air, is often considered the lightest and thinnest of laptops available. They run on a Mac system, but you can install Windows if that’s what the school uses. Macbooks are specifically designed to connect to cloud-based sharing and storage. If this is how your child’s school stores their files, then it’s a great way to go. This means that if the Macbook is ever lost or stolen, your child’s work will be automatically backed up. Macbooks can be on the pricier side, however, even though some stores offer student discounts.
Chromebooks are also designed for cloud-based storage and sharing. They are similar to a laptop but run on Google Chrome OS software and are often lighter and more portable. Chromebooks need to be constantly connected to the internet but come at a competitive price point that is often cheaper than traditional laptops and Macbooks. One of the most attractive features for parents is their ability to create supervised accounts so that they can monitor and track their child’s usage.
A tablet is the most portable option for your child. They are lightweight and thin and come with permanent cases that (depending on just how heavy duty they are) will constantly protect them during use and when being carted around. A tablet does not have an inbuilt keypad, but there are attachable options which may be needed if you child plans on taking notes or drafting essays on it. A tablet works purely via a touch screen and is great if your child uses educational apps to learn. Double check with your child’s school, however, as they may specify the need for a laptop, Macbook or Chromebook over a tablet for additional storage and depending on the types of programs they use in the classroom.
While a smartphone is not the most practical option for your child to use in the classroom, it has become an essential method of communication for families. With a smartphone, you will be able to contact your child at all times to organise after school sports, pick up, drop off and extracurricular activities. If you are worried about a phone distracting your child from their studies, check with the school to see their policy on phones. Some schools require children to turn off their phones during class times – others have firewalls put in place. There is also a wide range of parenting control apps out there that will allow you to monitor your child’s phone use.
Schools are often updating their technology policies to cater for fast-changing advancements within the industry. If you are worried about investing in technology for your child at school, only for it to be outdated in a matter of years, why not hire it instead? Head over to Macrae’s technology page to browse your options!