"Which Mobile Device should we purchase?" is one of the most common questions that schools are asking at the moment. In many ways we are spoilt for choice: the iPad, the iPad Mini, MacBook, Tablets (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Tablet, Google Nexus 10), Windows 8 laptops, other laptops, and now hybrids that are both Laptop and Tablets (such as the HP Envy x2).
We are planning to issue new mobile devices to all teaching staff in September. Rather than going for a one-size-fits-all approach (as we have in the past), we have encouraged each academic department to consider the issues and to decide which type of device it recommends for use by teachers in the Department. That way we hope to maximise the impact that these devices are going to have on teaching and learning in the classroom.
The problem with the question "Which Mobile Device should we purchase?" is that there is no single right answer - ultimately the decision will depend on two factors:
- the nature of the Network Infrastructure in the school
- the needs and aspirations of teachers.
There is little point putting iPads or Tablets into the hands of teachers or pupils if the necessary WIFI infrastructure is not in place. Likewise there can be conflict issues when using Macs on MS network. These can be resolved but it takes time and expertise. In many ways the Network Infrastructure is the place to start when designing a mobile device strategy.
At Berkhamsted, we have already spent five years investing in the necessary network infrastructure to support a cross-platform mobile device solution. This includes upgrading our cabling, switches and servers, introducing WIFI connectivity and improving the Internet connection. Furthermore, this summer we are replacing our IWBs with Epson EB-485WiE WIFI interactive projectors (see previous blogpost) and have been using Citrix to provide remote desktop capability for the past couple of years.
Needs and Aspirations of Teachers
Different departments have different needs:
- Science want to use data-loggers (the ones we have require a USB port), but also want to use Apps, which pushes them into the direction of Windows 8 Laptops.
- Modern Languages are using iPad Apps in the classroom.
- Many departments have no plans to use Apps in the classroom but just want a slightly faster version of what they have at the moment - so they are likely to be getting the cheaper Windows 7 laptops.
- and so on . . .
The following is based on advice that was given to Heads of Department to help them weigh up the pros and cons of each type of device:
- Teacher Devices: Our unexpected solution - Mobile Device Strategy for Schools (Part One)
- Don't be tempted by iPads as a School Marketing tool - Learning the lessons of the past. Mobile Device Strategy for Schools (Part Two)
- Why we're getting rid of all of our Interactive Whiteboards