The BYOD initiative is not intended to place an unreasonable burden on family finances. If you have a device at home which you think suitable in the classroom we can put it on our system and see how it performs. However, if you don’t have a suitable device and are looking for a new or used machine, PHSC recommends a Windows Netbook/laptop with minimum 2Gb Ram, Windows 7 or later preferred.
Students are happily running Apple machines at the college, so if you have one of these it will work fine.
Build quality is also something to consider. A rugged chassis will help a machine to weather life in a student’s bag. A hard laptop case is also good insurance.
Installed software will depend on the student’s age and subject choice. All PHSC students are provided with a Microsoft 365 license. This allows free download of the Office suite on up to 5 different devices on either Windows or Mac devices. The 365 package also provides Onedrive cloud file storage for students to backup their files. Students should also install Adobe Acrobat, Java, VLC media player (free), and a browser (Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.). Teachers may require students to download and install software off the internet from time to time also.
Most publishing companies sell eBook versions of their textbooks. These are cheaper than the paper edition and are accessed over an internet connection and/or stored on the computer in PDF format. Many students find the eBook format more convenient than carrying multiple bulky textbooks around. The cost savings of using eBooks on computer over bound books may prove to be significant over the life of the device. Over the next year or so the college will move away from a paper based diary to an Office 365 based electronic version. Electronic diaries are a powerful organisational tool which can crossover onto mobile phones and other personal devices.
Some students are using Tablet devices such as Apple iPad and Android devices. These devices have some shortcomings for us and these outweigh the advantages, particularly in the junior years. Some Pros and Cons for both types of device are outlined below.
Laptop Pros & Cons:
|Performance, Power and Functionality||Weight. Heavier than a tablet.|
|Can run a wider range of software||Battery life is not as good as a tablet although a spare battery may alleviate this. We will have a recharging facility for students at recess and lunchtimes.|
|More Storage||Laptop chargers are generally bulkier in comparison to those associated with a tablet.|
|USB ports||Ultrabooks are generally more expensive.|
|SD card slot|
|eBooks. Replaces heavy texts|
Tablet Pros & Cons:
|Light weight||Storage. Not as big an issue as in the past when online storage is considered.|
|Good battery life. Can go whole day on a charge||Does not interact as well with cloud or network based content creation tools. eg: Editing wikis on the PHSC wiki server is not a great experience.|
|Instant on. No wait for boot up||Touchscreen is delicate. If damaged the device is useless|
|Built in camera/s||File management|
|eBooks. Ideal format for eBooks.||Don’t always cope with Adobe Flash content|
|Entering text on a touch screen keyboard can be awkward.|
Also consider the following:
For older students, engage them in the device selection process and be guided by what they feel comfortable with managing.
Weight: Lighter devices are preferred by most students.
Battery Performance: Look for long running time, fast charge and length of battery warranty.
Solid State Drives (SSD): SSDs start up and shutdown much faster than regular hard disks and can make a big difference in how long it takes students to be ready to work in class . They also extend the time a device will operate on a single charge as they generally use less power than conventional hard disks. SSD devices are found in tablets but are becoming available at affordable levels in laptops now. SSDs are also more mechanically robust that conventional hard disks. When testing out devices or talking to sales people ask how long the device takes to boot.
Protection: Purchase a case or cover that protects the device while it is being used wherever possible. This investment will help keep it running when the inevitable knocks and drops occur.
Warranty: Purchase a device with a warranty that matches the length of time you would like to continue using the device. Look at their advertised response times and how the device will be inspected if there is a fault (eg: do you need to post it, take it to a dealer, or do they come to you).
Wireless: Devices must have wireless that is able to run on either the G or N standard (eg: “802.11 B/G/N” is ok because both N and G are listed – we just need one of them). Please note that if the wireless runs only on A or B standard, this is not suitable for the College network.
Students at PHSC have access to a personal Onedrive account. This enables them to synchronise folders on their device to cloud based storage and maintain a working copy of any data. This ensures no loss of data should the device be damaged or become lost. It also means students can access their data from any other device and from any other location with internet access.