A Brief Guide to Choosing a Student Device for Your Child

Just as we have become more and more reliant on technology in everyday life, the practicalities of school life have also changed dramatically thanks to the latest innovations in computing technology.

In the last decade we’ve seen the perception of laptops and tablets shift from that of an optional extra or luxury item to a tool that’s become an essential part of the classroom.

Modern schools are really embracing the latest technology as a key learning tool – not only to take advantage of the versatile interactivity available, but also to ensure students are prepared for how they will use this technology when they leave school and join the workforce.

As a parent, you want your child to have access to the very best tools which will enable them to learn in creative ways and not get left behind in their education. In 2009, the Australian government funded a laptop program for high school students, but this funding ended in 2013 and the responsibility of providing appropriate student devices now rests with parents.

Faced with a huge range of tablets, laptops, Ultrabooks and 2-in-1 devices to choose from, parents can find the prospect of selecting the right device a little daunting. That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to equip you with the knowledge needed to select the right student device to assist with your child’s learning and development.

Getting started with choosing a device for your child

While the basics will generally be the same, as there is no current unified system of guidelines for student devices throughout Australia, the specific requirements needed may vary depending on the needs of each particular school. There are often some variations based on which state or territory the school is in, whether it’s a private or public school, and also which grade or level of schooling your child is currently in.

Individual schools may also have their own philosophical approach to the use of technology in teaching, and this can have a major impact on what type of device you should be choosing.

The starting point is to get in touch with your child’s school – they should be able to provide you with the details of what type of device is required for your child, and what type of specs you should be looking for when purchasing.

What are the most common Student Device procurement models?

Schools will generally follow one of these three models: Minimum Recommended Specifications, Choose Your Own Device, or a Mandated Device.

The Minimum Recommended Specifications model enables parents to find and source whatever device they like, provided it meets a list of minimum technical requirements provided by the school.

The Choose Your Own Device model allows parents to purchase a device from a school-approved range of devices only.

With the Mandated Device procurement model, your child’s school will have pre-approved a single device that all parents must purchase for students to bring to school.

What are the most common technical considerations?

  • Battery Life – Choose a device that has enough battery power to last the entire school day. Models that boast 8hr+ of battery should be a starting point.
  • Value – Let’s face it, laptops and tablets aren’t the cheapest things in the world. In order to get the best value for your money you need to look for a device that strikes the right balance between performance and price.
  • Dual-Band Wireless – Your child’s device should have the ability to connect to the school’s network, so effective wireless connectivity is vital.
  • Screen Size – Another technical point where the right balance must be struck, this time between the need for the device to be small enough for easy portability and yet large enough for the student to work on without difficulty.
  • Weight – A lightweight device will be a big help for your child since they are likely to be lugging it around in their backpack all day.

Are There Any Non-Technical Issues to Consider?

You might want to consider what the upgrade cycle for the device is going to be. How often will your child need a new device? Does your child’s school recommend a different device for Grades 7-9 than they recommend for Grades 10-12? If possible, go for a device that can grow with your child and be easily upgraded when required.

You should also consider whether the device complements your child’s passions, hobbies and interests. Whether they are a budding academic, creatively driven or more technically minded, their passions will often shape their future career and the right device can both encourage their passions and help develop their skills.

If you’d like to see our range of student devices, simply visit the Harvey Norman website or head down to your local store and have a chat with our tech experts about finding the right device for your child’s needs.