Tue, Jan 31, 2023 8:30 AM

Back to school? Avoid BYOD pitfalls


Matt Brown

Long behind us are the days of typing classes in the school computer lab – a personal computer is as important (if not more important) than a stuffed pencil case at modern schools.

Students are expected to bring their own laptop at high school and many intermediate and primary schools in Marlborough, but choosing the right device can be an expensive exercise.

BP Computers owner Brendon Price says an important thing to consider is the ruggedness of the device.

“We see a lot of laptops with chunks taken out of them, dropped on a corner with broken screens or keyboards.

“Get something that doesn’t feel flimsy, has good hinges and makes sure it’s well protected.”

Most schools use either Microsoft or Google’s online tools – or a combination of both; and specialist subjects with specialised software often need a gruntier laptop.

Brendon says there is a sweet spot between price and performance.

“You don’t need the latest, flashest laptop,” he says.

“You could spend a lot on a machine, and it lasts you no longer than a mid-range laptop. Or spend slightly less and it lasts half the time.

“There is very much a sweet spot – it's picking that balance.”

He says any decent IT company should be able to supply a good laptop and to talk to them about a product that fits.

Tablets and phones are discouraged at most schools as often they are unable to run the right programs needed for learning.

Brendon says many primary and intermediate schools recommend Chromebooks, while high schools tend to need more capable computers running Windows.

Chromebooks are often lower-powered devices which are cheaper but can’t run Windows applications.

“Go with what the school recommends – they know what’s needed for the curriculum,” says Brendon.

“If the school doesn’t recommend it, don’t get it.”

He says school laptops aren’t sitting, plugged in on a desk all day; they’re being moved around a lot, need decent batteries and will be carried around in a backpack.

“They’re still a delicate bit of kit at the end of the day and it can be more expensive to fix a laptop, depending on the parts and supply.

“Look for good back up and support, and make sure it’s well protected in their school bag.”

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