As students head back to school this year, families with K–12 children plan to spend an average of $687.72 to prepare them, totaling $29.5 billion nationwide. The National Retail Federation reports that of this money, $8.8 billion (or 60 percent) will be spent on electronics.
“Schools are changing their classroom experience to include more technology including laptops and tablets,” Pam Goodfellow, the principal analyst for Prosper Insights and Analytics, which conducted the survey, says in the NRF report. “That is why many parents, specifically Millennials, are spending more during back-to-school season and taking advantage of retailers’ best deals to stretch their budgets.”
With more schools adopting BYOD programs, it’s important for IT decision-makers to know what kinds of devices will be coming back to school with their students.
Laptops Remain Top Choice, but 2-in-1 Devices Are Coming
About 45 percent of the parents surveyed indicate they plan to buy a laptop for their student, while 35 percent indicate they will buy a tablet, NRF reports. The rest say they’ll buy desktop computers or tech accessories. Sixty-five percent say their children are influencing half or more of their purchases.
Though parents are planning to buy laptops, more two-in-one or convertible devices are coming onto the market. Gartner reports that by 2019, sales of these devices will top 58 million units. Both Google and Microsoft have developed new hybrid devices, like the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Dell 2-in-1 Latitude.
When it comes to school IT spending, 90 percent in a recent survey indicate they plan to increase spending on Chromebooks in the coming years.
Preparing Networks for New Devices
Before students — and their newly purchased devices — come back to class, IT professionals need to make sure networks are in tiptop shape.
“The biggest thing schools can do is test their networks before students come back,” says Marie Bjerede, the principal for mobile learning and infrastructure at the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), in an EdTech article.
In addition to testing connections and download speeds, Bjerede also says that IT professionals should ensure that network capacity and bandwidth in classrooms and high-traffic areas are ready to withstand more devices.
“You want to make sure each access point can cover as much capacity as is needed. Make sure nobody will get kicked off,” she says.