Importance of PCs for Schools
Technology has become central to students’ learning experiences and educators’ teaching practices. While IT staff and school administrators work to provide PCs for each student, simply giving them a device is not enough; it must be a capable PC with enough performance to withstand the needs of that student. A powerful PC is a key factor for facilitating and driving optimal learning, no matter if students learn in a physical classroom, at home, or in a hybrid model.
Benefits of PCs for Schools
Multitude of options: PCs come in a wide range of options that can fit best for any age group. Decision-makers can select from multiple form factors, sizes, and processor performance levels while providing their students with fast connections and high quality, particularly when paired with Intel® CPUs. The best-fit PCs also come at a lower total cost of ownership for IT administrators, allowing them to make one purchase and be confident that those PCs will last over a longer period of time. This reduces the frequency at which devices need to be replaced or refreshed while meeting the ever-evolving needs for growing students.
Support active learning and flipped classroom environments: Active learning is a teaching methodology that encourages students to participate directly and learn by “doing.” Similarly, the flipped classroom teaching methodology aims to increase student engagement by having students complete classwork at home and participate in hands-on activities in the classroom. With PCs in the hands of students—in the classroom and at home—they can actively engage in coursework that encourages them to think critically, act creatively, and learn effectively. While they develop technical skills by using a PC, students can also expand their knowledge by developing innovative skillsets and mindsets.
Best option for remote, in-class, and hybrid learning: The COVID-19 pandemic drastically shifted the education industry, forcing teachers and schools to adapt quickly. With a capable PC for every student, students can still have access to their education and collaborate in a more personalized educational space—even if their location has changed. Additional technologies like interactive flat panel displays and Intel Unite® in classrooms can also boost efficient learning and teaching practices, no matter where your student is learning.
Considerations When Selecting the Right Device for Student and Educator Success
Well-performing student devices are critical for learning success. In a 2020 Intel-led study with US-based K–12 schools, 92 percent of IT decision-makers surveyed reported issues1 with student devices that had a direct, negative impact on their students’ ability to learn effectively. In most cases, these issues could have been avoided if students had devices that were better aligned with how they would be used. When selecting the right device for students and teachers, there are four key aspects that should be considered:
Performance and Age Groups
The best way to assess which device is needed is to consider performance needs per age group. Will your student just need videoconferencing and remote learning access (K–5)? Or will they need programming, coding, and digital content creation applications (6–8) or even AI, machine learning, and esports applications (9–12)? In general, more performance will be needed to support multiple applications run at the same time.
In the same Intel research study, inadequate device performance was one of the most-reported classes of issues. This resulted in lag and freeze-ups that kept students from fully participating in class or completing timed assignments. Many devices were also unable to run multiple, simultaneous applications without crashing or unable to run creative or data-intensive programs needed for middle and high school students. Ultimately, this resulted in some students experiencing a learning loss, where they were unable to access materials, complete and submit assignments, or attend class sessions.
To get the most out of your device purchase, consider student uses now and over time so you can select a device with enough power to support their needs. This chart shows how PCs with Intel® processors are aligned with computing power needs for student educational activities by grade level:
With the students we settled on the Intel® Core™ i3. We could have gone with Intel® Celeron®. But when I’m thinking of the things that we’re going to be piling on from a software point of view, from a curriculum point of view, and where we want to go, from a longevity point of view, I don’t want to have to be making the purchases over and over.
Portability and Durability
PC purchasing decisions often come down to a small list of specifications, including price and battery life. However, it’s important to think about whether a device will travel between home and school, if it will stay put in a computer lab, if it’s durable for younger students, and if it can connect in different locations. While performance is a crucial element when choosing a device, thinking about how and where students will use their device can affect choice of form factor, size, portability, and ruggedness (durability).
Intel’s research found that IT decision-makers who are planning their future take-home device purchases are now also considering durability and form factor upgrades. Features like spill-proof keys, scratch-resistant displays, and heavy-duty hinges were some of the most desired durability features among decision-makers. For students who learn remotely or travel between home and school, portability and durability are crucial in ensuring a device won’t physically break or slow down. A durable PC allows students to take their device anywhere and IT administrators don’t have to worry about replacing a PC when they leave the classroom. Additionally, when devices are in the hands of younger students, durability is critical, so devices stay intact as they progress through the next few grade levels.
In terms of form factor, features like device weight, screen size, and touchscreen capabilities for keyboard-free use were at the top of the list for younger students. Spill-proof keyboards can extend device life as younger students progress to higher grade levels and begin using their devices more for content creation. Larger screen sizes, touchscreen capabilities, keyboards, and drawing pads were of value for older students to support more-intensive apps and increase engagement. When considering the best devices for each age and learning environment, PCs provide a wide range of configurations and options, giving schools the choices and flexibility they need.
Connectivity is critical to student success, especially for hybrid and remote learning. If a student can’t connect to the internet, they are at a serious disadvantage; it won’t matter if their device has great performance, portability, and ruggedness if they can’t connect and remote into class. For some families, internet access can be a costly option or not an option at all.
Surveyed school administrators reported that at least a quarter of students receiving devices did not have internet access at home, and more than a third of students who struggled with inadequate connectivity were located in rural areas.1 Additionally, IT decision-makers indicated that their second highest technology investment in 2020, beyond devices, was in overall infrastructure to increase bandwidth and connectivity.
Striving for equal access to education, schools are looking to provide PCs with onboard LTE or hotspots to students most impacted by limited connectivity. And when connectivity is available, PCs with Intel vPro® have built-in Wi-Fi 6 or be Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) compatible, offering smoother videoconferencing, faster downloads, enhanced reliability, and improved performance on congested networks. Intel vPro® offers the added benefit of integrated, hardware-based security features.
Connectivity is probably our biggest challenge that we have, because we are dealing with families that struggle financially; there isn’t always an internet. So, we provide hundreds of hotspots to families … so that they can connect.
Manageability and Security
With remote and hybrid learning now a staple of education, IT decision-makers are forecasting an increase in purchases of take-home devices, keeping manageability and security of these distributed devices a key area of IT staff focus. With 1:1 models (one device per student) becoming more common, it becomes even more critical to have a fleet of PCs that are easy to manage remotely. Troubleshooting and routine maintenance not only hinder students’ learning experiences, but can also drive up IT costs.
Intel has developed this comprehensive handbook for security strategies in education that can help administrators identify management strategies, data protection, and network and cloud security. Parents can also help teach their kids the importance of online safety with Intel’s Online Safety for Kids Program.
Maximize Value from Your Investment
It’s important to think about the cost of any device purchase completely and assess how to maximize value from your investment over time. Selecting well-performing devices increases the longevity of an investment because they can sustain constant use and provide the performance power students need as they progress through each grade.
According to Intel’s research, many schools found that devices put into use during the pandemic did not have the attributes and capabilities to meet students’ needs. In order to prevent IT administrators from a too-frequent refresh cycle, a higher-quality device purchase can last longer, allowing students to balance workloads, stay connected, and run multiple applications at once and supporting their evolving needs as they advance in school.
Intel® PCs for Schools
Intel has a wide portfolio of devices and other technologies that can benefit schools for an active learning environment. With multiple considerations like performance, form factor, connectivity, manageability, security, and budget in mind, IT administrators can make the best decision for their students at any age, no matter where they learn.
Intel Invests in Education Success
Intel has a proven history of involvement in and support for education. Shortly after the pandemic was declared in March 2020, Intel announced the Pandemic Response Technology Initiative, where one of its goals was to enable remote learning for students and help apply technology to aid in economic recovery. One example of this investment was seen in Houston, Texas. In July 2020, Intel teamed up with Microsoft and T-Mobile to provide Houston communities with access to digital skills and resources as well as internet connectivity for qualified students and parents.
Additionally, Intel convened with First Book to launch the Creating Learning Connections Initiative, where they provided USD 5 million in PCs, software, configuration services, and digital learning resources to US–based schools. With 40 percent of students without access to functioning devices, the program strives to give underserved students and educators access to critical tools and resources.2