Back to school technology


It’s time to get geared up for the return to education. Just about every parent or guardian gets that sinking feeling as the new school year approaches – what, if anything, does your child need to make the next academic year as productive as possible?


Many schools now accept that iPads or other similar devices can be a valuable aid to education. They are also aware that the opportunity for abuse (such as game playing and non-school related browsing) is rife. Good educational establishments have in place methods of controlling the content accessible from these devices as well as agreements with parents to limit the amount of extracurricular content the device can have. Although an iPad is an expensive item for many people, an Android device of a similar nature can be bought for much less than half the price and offers very similar functionality. One big advantage to an Android system is the massive amount of almost free software available. MSC offers a number of utilities to protect and secure the device against loss, malicious software damage and theft.


The laptop question: Does your child need a laptop for educational purposes? There are arguments for and against with the main con being expense. A suitable machine for education needs to have good battery life, be able to run modern applications without problems, be very portable and have a degree of future-proofing (no parent wants to buy a new laptop every term). Don’t be led astray by apparent needs, just because your kids assure you the new Macbook Air is the only machine suitable to the task you can bet your shirt that it’s more to do with form than function. That being said, an inexpensive machine suitable to the task will still set you back most of a thousand Pounds.


The majority of text books are now available as e-books (electronic versions of the paper version) which can be downloaded to the device. As well as these often being less expensive than the hard copy counterpart, note taking and study guides are much easier to accomplish.


Finally, consider buying some immediate and accessible portable storage solution, or in plain English, a USB thumb drive. There are a number of suitable devices on the market at a range of prices. MSC offer the perfect solution in two different styles, a secure USB drive with one of the most secure software solutions on the market, MYEasyLock. Take a look at our very special offer for MYSecureUSB only available to subscribers of our monthly newsletter.


So what kit should you be looking at …?


1.      Already have an iPad or something similar? Look into the options of getting the relevant text books in electronic format. As well as saving money it will be a lot less to carry around and it’s unlikely they will “forget” to take the required book to class. Remember to talk with the school/college first so you know they allow such devices – it may be they can offer you the e-books at a greatly reduced price.


2.      Many parents have considered a laptop as a learning aid. It is a fact that a laptop offers the best options for education (office applications, dedicated learning programs, etc.) but, an inexpensive laptop will have relatively poor battery life and is likely to be under powered. An ultrabook or Macbook air is the ideal machine but then … do you want to spend over a grand? If a suitable machine is already part of your household and it can re-assigned … great


3.      Money: This one has caused more problems than anything else. Consider using a credit card to issue your kids with an allowance. Almost all shops now accept (or even prefer) transactions via credit card. You can get a pre-pay credit from your local Post Office which can be topped up online. Your kids will never have their pocket money “lost” again. This is a good solution for younger and older kids.


4.      Facebook: Many educational institutions frown on students accessing Facebook during school hours. Talk with the school and come to an arrangement to limit access to Facebook when inappropriate. There are utilities that can restrict access between certain times and the school IT department will almost certainly block the site if it is considered a no-go area. This may also apply to other social networking sites and domains.


5.      USB thumb drive. Invest in a secure USB device, make sure it easy to carry and very accessible (our “key” is ideal so it can be added to a key-ring). This can be used for storing files such as homework assignments and work documents along with personal information and is secured so if it gets lost you know the data will remain secure.


Education is the primary key to a successful return to school; both for kids and parents. Talk with each other and try to agree a set of protocols and modes of conduct. Arrange a meeting with school teachers to discuss needs and agree on what technology is permitted and under what circumstances.


If you need any advice simply contact our support department who will be more than happy to discuss your needs and offer a solution.


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