In last week’s article, we took a little bit of time to cover whether technology was truly helping students with their educational goals. Now that we’ve covered the pitfalls as well as useful tips on how to use technology in the classroom successfully, let’s talk about the best technology for you or your specific student. There are a lot of options out there, and having some kind of guide can get you started. After determining what type of technology you want to run with, you’ll find yourself in a far smaller pool of options and a lot less to sift through.
Different Types of Technology
As we discuss the following types of technology, please note that these are general guidelines. Not all of the options found within a category are going to necessarily follow all the rules put underneath. These are just some basic rules we find the most often comparing the categories.
Most people are pretty familiar with where a laptop can take them. Most people have used and owned one in their life, but let’s talk about it so we can compare it to other types of technology.
Wider Range of Tasks
First of all, laptops are going to give you a wide range of tasks. There are many applications that a laptop can handle seamlessly that a tablet can’t keep up with. Tablets are coming along, but they’re meant to be kept small. Therefore, they simply can’t keep up with what a laptop can do.
The keyboards are also far more solid on a laptop (if the tablet you’re using even has a keyboard at all). To conserve space and weight, tablets often opt out of a definitive keyboard. You can use the interface to type electronically, but 99% of people can type as quickly or as accurately with the touchscreen. It may be heavier, but perhaps the good old fashioned keyboard is going to give you an advantage.
Laptops often also hold far more storage. Because most of the physical space in a tablet is taken up by a battery, they simply don’t compete with the amount of storage a laptop can carry. On top of that, laptops also offer USB ports for even more storage. If you’re looking into a tablet, consider the fact that some have microSD cards because those are going to expand the amount of storage you can keep (especially if you’re using the tablet as your sole device).
Lastly, laptops are simply going to perform better on specific tasks. Tablets are great for internet usage and typing, but once again, they’re small. They are often meant for basic tasks. That being said, you can sometimes find specialized tablets that are going to outperform a laptop, but keep in mind that those tablets will have to give up something in order to save space for your desired tasks. Laptops are a far more generalized tool.
People often choose tablets over laptops for one specific reason: portability. After being a college student myself, I don’t blame them. Carrying those books and laptops to and from classes on campus can be a real chore. And there were many times I wanted to ditch the whole idea. Tablets often weigh less than two pounds, and this is highly enticing to anyone who’s had to carry a backpack.
Longer Battery Life
Tablets, as a general rule, have a longer battery life than laptops. As discussed previously, a majority of their physical space is taken up by the battery itself. Because all of the other programs are often simpler than that of a laptop, you’re going to find yourself with up to ten hours of battery. Compare this to the four or five hours you’ll find using your laptop. Five hours may seem like plenty, but trust me, you’ll be surprised by how often that laptop starts running on dry unless you’re also carrying around the charger. Of course, the charger for a laptop is not heavy. However, when you’re looking for a lightweight option, the charger is just one more thing to add to the list of cons for getting a laptop.
Easy to Use
Tablets often have an extremely easy-to-use interface. This is mainly due to the sheer simplicity of the device and its tendency to lean towards simpler tasks and less programs in general. However, there’s something to be said for being able to log on and immediately find what you’re looking for.
One other consideration when looking at laptops vs. tablets is the price range. Low tier tablets can be as cheap as $100. If you’re just looking for internet and a note pad, you’re all set. Middle tier tablets find themselves at the price range of $200-$400. You’ll be able to get more done with these guys and still find yourself with a cheaper option than a laptop. The highest tier tablets are going to be anywhere from $500 up to $1,000. You’ll find a lot more “laptop” features with these higher capacity tablets. But keep in mind that they will not likely compete with the laptops that are in the same price range.
Basically, get a tablet if you need something cheaper. If you can afford more, you can still buy a cheap tablet, but be wary of getting a fancier tablet. You may find yourself happier with a laptop in those price ranges.
I haven’t mentioned much about smart pens in my other comparisons between laptops and tablets. This is because they’re a different animal. However, they do take notes so I thought it would be important to throw them in as a category in case you’re unfamiliar with them.
Essentially, smart pens enable you to literally write on fancy paper and it gets turned into electronic files. If you really like writing more than typing (you should take a typing class), this may be the option for you. They are significantly more simple than a laptop or a tablet. But they’re also cheaper and the most portable thing you can haul around even when compared to the smallest tablets. One other fun little benefit is that you can directly record the audio, and it’ll match up to the notes you’re taking. This sounds like an incredible benefit, but also take a minute to deeply consider whether you’re ever truly going to listen to that lecture again.
When it comes down to it, these different devices offer different kinds of flexibility. If you’re looking for something easier to carry and cheaper, a tablet is for you. If you need more flexibility of tools, a laptop is worth the extra effort.
“Other” Technology To Bring
Most students are aware of their need for a laptop or tablet. That’s a no-brainer. However, are there any other kinds of technology worth bringing into the dormroom? Of course, you’ve got to have some good speakers, headphones, and a printer. But what other kind of nifty tools are worth considering?
Check out the Amazon Echo. Plenty of people use these devices at home. But they can potentially be just as useful for a college student making the transition to being on their own. Without mom to remind them to do their laundry or a teacher who is much more involved in helping students keep up with assignments, students can find themselves a little overwhelmed with all of their new responsibilities. Amazon Echo may be the solution. Besides easy access weather updates, Echo can help your student with reminders of assignments, basic chores, college activities, and important events. It’s a great provider of information as well as a personal assistant to keep you or your student on track. And by the way, this easily replaces a need for separate speakers.
Fitbit is another option to consider for your graduating high school student. Besides keeping up with new appointments, assignments, and responsibilities, your student is going to find themselves inundated with new freedom. This is a normal and essential transition. However, it often leads students to some sleep deprivation and lack of health awareness. Fitbit does a fantastic job of not only tracking how long you sleep but your quality of sleep. With all the new distractions and options, it never hurts to have a reminder that taking care of your body needs to be a top priority.
Phillips Wake Up Light
I actually got this one for my husband for his birthday, and he LOVES it. Yes, it’s an alarm clock, but it’s so much more than that. Your body naturally uses lighting to know what kinds of hormones to release. These hormones go on to affect your level of drowsiness.
My husband sets the alarm on his clock. Approximately half an hour before the noise goes off, a soft light starts to fill the room. It gets gradually brighter until it’s time for the actual alarm to go off. It’s such a simple idea, but I was shocked by how awesome it was. It definitely helped my husband with his sleep schedule (he’s an insomniac). But even more intriguing was how much it helped me even though I was already pretty good at keeping a regular sleep schedule. Alarms give me anxiety; this one was so peaceful to wake up to.