Simon Harbridge, CEO of Stone Group, explains why education-specific tablets need to be used by students.
When you meet customers at education-focused tech shows like BETT, or at their schools or colleges, you ask them questions to drive the conversation. “Did you find the information you were looking for? Do you know what devices you are going to buy for your school?” If they are like a lot of our customers, they’ve had what they want in mind before they approached you. And it’s probably iPads. Kids want them. Parents want them. They are always top of the Christmas and Birthday lists.
If a school has a BYOD device policy, there’s probably a lot of iPads in use already. However, I think that this education special has helped unify the conclusion that there is so much more to providing effective digital learning opportunities than turning to an estate of just one type of device.
We can, and frequently do provide iPads and other devices to our customers, and they have fantastic benefits. But they are not designed specifically for education.
Devices that are designed for school or for young people are tougher, more suited to smaller hands and fingers, and can be carried and dropped without fear.
Tablets and laptops designed with education in mind can carry applications that are essential for pupils to be able to complete subject lessons. They are simple to operate and as intuitive as the consumer device equivalent, and crucially, they are able to work in conjunction with other devices, sharing and transferring information between student and teacher to allow for BYOD.
We need to be encouraging customers to look beyond the aesthetics of a device, and think about how it will last.
There is also the fundamental question about integration. How will a new investment fit together with any legacy IT hardware and current infrastructure?
It’s not that there’s no room for iPads in schools, it’s that there’s room for other hardware too. We should be facilitating the change a customer needs, as opposed to agreeing with the purchasing path they think they should take.