Future back-to-school shopping list

If you ask me or my wife, we don’t have a good response as to why we procure all new school supplies for our son during the annual back-to-school ritual – we just do. This results in half-used pencils and crayon sets with six hues of blue winding up in my desk drawer when the school year ends. If those pencils and crayons could talk, they’d probably say, “We’re still good for another school year!”

Our educational system, whether at primary, higher or continuing education tiers, is using technology more than ever before to produce digital-world citizens equipped with the highest aptitude of digital literacy. As digital-world tools such as computers and tablets continue to be commoditized, I can see a day in the near future where, instead of pencils and crayons, students will be required to bring in their own digital device to use in class.

In fact this is already happening in some schools under the “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD, model of the One-to-One Computing concept where a computer for each student to use becomes the norm. In 2016 many families already own multiple digital devices, making it more plausible for future back-to-school shopping lists to include a BYOD tool, regardless of grade level.

Currently on the market are computers running Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s OS X (to be rebranded macOS this fall) and Google’s ChromeOS, a trifecta gunning for your hard-earned dollars. The latter, called “Chromebooks,” are prominent in education and particularly in schools taking advantage of the free “Google Apps for Education” (GAFE) program.

GAFE is very budget friendly, because the suite of productivity software is available for free in “the cloud” (aka internet), and can be accessed by any device. Schools only have to supply the connection to the internet – a given for most schools these days. That internet connection may also be subsidized by Uncle Sam under the “Schools and Libraries Program,” commonly known as “E-rate,” for eligible schools.

Every year when the back-to-school shopping season hits, there is an abundance of advisory articles on what digital-world tools you should get for your child. I will refrain from reinventing the wheel and leave those tips articles to others. Rather, I want to reiterate the importance of “appropriateness” before plunking down your hard-earned money on that shiny new device for your child.

The “appropriateness” that I speak of may be assessed by finding out what your child’s school is doing to incorporate digital-world tools into their curriculum, and what they recommend for you to get or not get, for your child to succeed.

Many times being inquisitive and being an engaged parent will lead you to an appropriate investment!

Tak Sato

Technology and Organization Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As co-founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World" and co-founder of Center for Aging in the Digital World, a nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 8, Issue 16, Posted 9:39 AM, 08.16.2016