Middle school students will start losing their iPads next year in favor of Dell Chromebooks.
The Horry County Schools technology committee on Monday recommended replacing the iPads, which have been in use for four years, with 11-inch Dell Chromebooks. The new devices are expected to last another four years.
A team of 75 stakeholders, including two teachers and two students from each school, met in groups on Jan. 17 to review the devices, including the Chromebook, Apple iPad Air 2 and Dell Latitude Education Theory 3160 for use in the middle schools. The device selected by every test group was the Dell Chromebook.
“One of the biggest comments that the students made in the evaluation meeting, they liked having a physical keyboard and they felt they were very fast,” said Executive Director of Technology Charles Hucks. “If you have used a Chromebook, the log-in is very quick.”
Teachers will use a model with a screen that rotates back in order for the device to function as a tablet. Student devices will not have that function.
The district is currently planning on purchasing 12,575 student devices at a cost of about $420 each, said Hucks. The district plans on purchasing 1,222 devices for teachers, but the teacher devices will cost between $120 and $150 more.
Other possible expenses such as charging stations and extra bandwidth have not been calculated yet, so the district doesn’t know the total cost of the new devices.
Parents will still have to pay the $25 technology fee.
What happens if they break?
Dell will have technicians in the school district to help repair devices if they’re damaged, said Hucks.
“That’s like AppleCare for Dell products,” he said. “The difference is with iPads, Apple doesn’t consider those field-serviceable. So when you break an iPad, they send it back and send you another one. Dell considers these field-serviceable, which means that they will have technicians on-site in our facilities that will have the parts to take this apart and fix it. Except in extreme cases, it won’t be sent off, it’ll be fixed here.”
The full roll-out will occur during the next school year, although some iPads will remain in the classroom to help students transition to the new devices. Teacher iPads will be passed down to elementary students and teachers will receive their devices.
Hucks said the devices will be used for four years.
The district is planning on purchasing the almost 14,000 devices to allow for student population growth.
“We don’t want to end up buying 10,000 of a device now and finding out in year three we need to buy three more and now we’ve got a mix,” said Hucks. “And logistically, that’s a big problem. You always want to have homogeneous devices.”
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian