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May 9, 2017

2017-18 Classroom Technology Guide: General Guidelines & Tips

Bill McDonnell, Lead School IT Specialist

A little planning goes a very long way when launching a new technology deployment or upgrading the existing technology in your school. Time and budget constraints can make it difficult to do the level of research and hands-on testing technologists would like before they deploy devices, but below are some things to consider when you begin device selection.

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Invest in Quality

While it may be tempting to purchase devices that look like a great deal, be sure to do your due diligence when buying—particularly used devices or devices that were released several years ago. Investing in quality, durable, performant hardware now will ultimately save you on upgrades and replacing technology in the future, and some bargain products are not ultimately worth the savings.

Schools should own student-facing technology; avoid student bring-your-own-device (BYOD).

  • Unmanaged devices can cost educators, students, and information technologists productivity.
  • Upfront cost can be high, but the long term cost of wasted class time is immeasurable.

Buy from licensed wholesale resellers, not big box stores, for the best prices.

Aim for a three-year duty cycle.

  • Purchase devices that you plan to use for three years, and be prepared to replace some devices after this cycle.

Purchase Chromebooks with a minimum 4GB configuration.

  • Anything below 4GB will not last three years.

Stock spare Chromebook screens.

  • Screens can be easily replaced onsite for less than $50, potentially saving in repair costs.

Budget devices and older hardware have drawbacks.

  • Try to buy within the last two years of your school start date.

Infrastructure Is Key

Ensuring you have the right infrastructure in place will make technology deployments more seamless for educators, technologists, and students. Invest time in setting up infrastructure before you deploy to make sure your new technology runs smoothly from day one.

Focus on infrastructure first.

  • If your network can’t support 200 laptops, classrooms will not use them.

All devices should be in a device management system.

  • Devices are more effective with security, privacy, and content management.

All Apple devices should be in their Device Enrollment Program (DEP).

  • This will save you countless hours on configuration and increase your management options.

Be sure to enroll your Chromebooks in your G Suite domain.

  • Enrolling devices in your school's G Suite domain is an effective way to manage and secure devices.

Always white glove deploy.

  • This allows educators to immediately start using their devices without walking students through configuration steps.

Plan for charging infrastructure.

  • Avoid devices with asymmetrical chargers.

Plan for Multiple Use Cases

Technology should be tailored to suit the varying needs of students and educators. Plan to purchase multiple levels of technology for different use cases and grade levels.

Plan your final device selection around educator and student needs.

  • If a device choice is not compatible with digital curricula, you need to know ahead of time.

Different age groups need different devices.

  • Tablets are not performant enough for grades 6-12; laptops can be superfluous for K-1.

Below third grade, 1:1 deployments may not be necessary for any device.


The information contained in this technology guide (this “Guide”) is provided for informational purposes only. AltSchool does not receive any financial benefit from any of the companies whose products are featured in this Guide. It is very important to do your own analysis of any products or services described in this Guide. No warranties, promises, or representations of any kind, expressed or implied, are given as to the nature, standard, accuracy or otherwise of the information provided in this Guide nor to the suitability or otherwise of the information to your particular circumstances. AltSchool does not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this Guide.

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