Choosing the Right Device: A Big Investment, A Complex Decision

 So far, it's been an exciting time here in London at the BETT show 2014. From the keynote speech from Sir Ranulph Finnes, to the skills workshops and speakers, this year's show is packed full of content for learning and education professionals. One of the biggest themes at this year's show is devices, and for good reason. With the pace of innovation in terms of how technology is being used within the classroom, particularly around tablet devices and mobile computing, choosing the right solution for a school, classroom or project is more complex than ever. At Microsoft, we know this decision must start with a plan.

To be sure, devices are the biggest technology investment in the classroom. That means choosing devices that meet learning objectives and help prepare students for their next step, whether that is higher education or the workforce. Productivity — or lack thereof — can mean the difference between the success and failure of any technology solution. Students need to consume content, analyze it and create documents with their findings, all while staying on task and away from distractions. And importantly, classroom computing must be secure, putting student safety and wellbeing first. It’s a tall order, but the right device is built to meet all of those needs and more.

• In an effort to support and inform administrators facing these challenges, Microsoft partnered with IDC Government Insights on a study to learn more about schools' technology investments. The results of the study, published in a white paper entitled "Demonstrating the Value of PCs in the Education Industry", looked at 11 schools and focused specifically on PCs — desktops, laptops, and "hybrid" tablet PCs (such as the Surface, which functions as a notebook system when the keyboard is connected, and as a tablet when the screen is detached). The study also looked at media tablets, defined as devices primarily designed and marketed to access a wide range of digital content and services, including media and communications).
The results support our belief that what matters most is a device that is full featured enough to allow students to consume information, collaborate with their peers and teachers and create great content. Here's what the study found:
•         The schools favored PCs over media 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 the needs of education — including management and security software, maintenance and warranty packages, and additional bandwidth — close the gap considerably.

•         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, resulting in annual maintenance costs that are 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.

• 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.

As with any major purchase, maintenance of devices and technology solutions can represent significant and unexpected costs down the road, making guaranteed reliability and easy-to-access support critical. Upgrades and replacements can be another surprise cost over time, placing quality and durability at a premium above novelty and “cool factor.” And taking risks with safety and security is not an option, so any technology solution should, first and foremost, protect students. The full study is attached below.

Microsoft helps school leaders meet the evolving needs of education by offering cost-effective devices and technologies that help secure and manage the business of education. Microsoft devices, whether they are tablets, laptops or desktop PCs, are designed to meet every need and to integrate with existing classroom technology. And to protect this critical investment, Microsoft devices are easy-to-implement workhorses with guaranteed reliability.

This week at BETT, we will be featuring a wide range of devices – from PCs to tablets to all-in-ones  — and we’ll be demonstrating how these can collectively help enhance methods of learning, and engage, motivate, and excite students and faculty. We know that technology can fundamentally change the way students learn, teachers instruct, and the education community communicates, and we are proud to play a role in helping students, teachers and administrators get the most out of today's technology to produce the leaders of tomorrow.



Anthony Salcito, Vice President Worldwide Education

IDC Study on Value of PCs.pdf

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