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Outfitting students' technology needs

9/16/2015, 1:30 p.m.
Nowadays, school supplies differ greatly from the markers, protractors and pencil cases required just a few decades ago.

— Nowadays, school supplies differ greatly from the markers, protractors and pencil cases required just a few decades ago. Many classrooms are now geared toward digital learning, and items such as tablets, smartboards and laptop computers are essential to enhancing students' classroom experiences. It's no surprise then that many students require a long list of tech products and applications to keep up with their studies.

According to a Project Tomorrow report titled "The New Digital Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students' Activities and Aspirations," a large percentage of students have access to various mobile devices in the classroom. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and digital readers are some of the more commonly used devices in modern classrooms, and such usage is not limited to older students, as the report noted significant penetration of mobile devices among the primary grades, even in K-2.

To enhance the learning experience found in school, parents may want to allow access to such devices at home. The following are some tech items to consider.

· Tablet: Android and Apple-based tablets give students easy access to a variety of applications and web connectivity. Their portability makes them a convenient way of staying connected both inside and outside the home. Many tablets can be enhanced with plug-in keyboards that make typing easier. Tablets can be used to take notes, browse the Internet, check email, and maintain correspondence with classmates via messaging applications.

· Smartphone: Smartphones now have many of the same capabilities of tablets, albeit in smaller packages. Parents may need to customize safety settings on phones to keep students secure, but the devices can be valuable tools in keeping tabs on kids' whereabouts.

· Laptop: Tablets and smartphones may have reduced consumer dependency on laptop and desktop computers, but traditional computers remain a valuable learning tool. Their larger screen sizes and mouse/keyboard features can make it easier for students to spend more time working on projects that require a lot of typing. Since many teachers now require assignments be typewritten or completed online, students may need to have a computer at home. Peripherals, such as a printer and an external hard drive, may prove useful as well.

· App access: Students may require different apps to complete their assignments and stay organized. Calendar functions, newspaper apps and calculators can provide the boosts kids need to perform well and stay organized. Mobile devices are pre-loaded with stores where users can purchase applications, such as the App Store on Apple devices and Google Play on Google-based mobile products. However, users will still need to establish an account, which is typically linked to a credit card. If parents do not feel comfortable giving children free rein, they can set parameters on app purchases or buy pre-paid app gift cards to avoid excessive charges on credit cards.

Technology is pervasive in the classroom, and students may need various digital devices to make the grade. BS157289