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Thinking 1:1 Tablets? 4 Questions To Ask Before You Decide

17 Sep 2015 by Heather Breedlove

Looking to purchase tablets for your district? How do you choose the correct one? The tablet tipping point: Strategies for scaling 1:1 with tablets ISTE panel provided great insights for districts thinking about tablets as their 1:1 choice.

Samsung talet displayed in powerpoint presentation

1. Is it backpack ready?

Tablets are starting to lighten the load, replacing the stack of textbooks weighing students down. However, the tablet needs to be durable enough to be carried around in a backpack from class to class. Tablets that have gorilla glass and a protective covering help protect the device from damage. One school actually demonstrated the durability of the tablet they choose by dropping it and kicking it across the gym floor. Not really recommended but got their point across with parents.

2. Will it last all day?

What good is a mobile device if a student is tethered by a power cord plugged into the wall? Increased battery life is essential to the students who are using their tablets all day. The more integrated tablets are in the classroom, the more learning stops if the tablet battery is dead. Will the tablets be able to connect to the wireless network all day? The network needs to be robust enough to handle all the mobile devices, minimizing drop offs and dead zones.

3. Will students be productive?

Students will need to be able to produce work on the tablets. Will the workflow work with your current system? Bluetooth is not always reliable or even allowed in online testing so other document sharing methods may need to be used like an LMS or Google Apps. Although the touch screen on a tablet is a great interface for students, many like the ability to use a stylus as well. Teachers may use it less than the students but a stylus gives another option for students to navigate the tablet and supports handwriting as well.

4. What is the total cost of ownership?

The three factors that play into total cost of ownership:

1. Device acquisition- How much money will it cost to purchase the equipment?

2. IT provisioning and management- How long will it take IT to set up the tablets for classroom use?

3. Device reliability and life cycle- How long will the tablets stay relevant as learning tools and withstand student use?

Employing a large amount of tablets usually involves a lot of IT time and resources but that is changing. Samsung rolled out their Near Field Provisioning (NFC) which allows IT to manage settings and applications on one tablet. Then using bump technology, provision the rest of the tablets in the classroom set in about 2 minutes. Teachers retain the ability to download apps for the tablets so they can download an app one day and use it the next.

Instead of IT and teachers managing devices, they can focus on getting tablets into the classroom and transforming student learning. Answering these questions is the first step to starting your own successful 1:1 tablet program. Learn more about tablets in the classroom.