The 7 questions you need to ask before starting a 1:1 initiative

 In End-User Devices, Hardware

How can you ace a 1:1 initiative? It starts with doing your homework.

If your school district is planning a 1:1 initiative, you’re probably weighing your options against costs and security – and those are valid considerations (more on them later). But district officials might be failing to think about how devices will be used, the necessary storage, and durability. So what other hardware considerations should IT be thinking about?

For a lot of school districts, two hardware choices make the most practical sense: Chromebooks or Windows machines. Both choices are affordable and offer compelling features. But which one you ultimately choose depends on your students. Let’s study up on the questions you should ask when deciding between a Dell Windows device or Chromebook.


1. What’s your budget? School districts want value, and rightfully so. Historical price trends show that Chromebooks are more affordable than Windows devices, but desktops and laptops running Windows are becoming more cost competitive. Cost shouldn’t become the main sticking point, but it’s understandable why many districts start with the bottom line.

2. What security and privacy protections can you afford? Like cost, security is another major consideration for school districts. Fear not: Both Chrome and Windows 10 are secure, and additional antivirus protections can strengthen security. Chrome OS doesn’t support Flash, giving it credence in the security community, but Windows 10’s compatibility and integration with a litany of security products means districts can customize their defenses.

3. What do your users demand? Chances are, most devices in a school will be used for word processing, video playback, and internet access. Windows devices, though, tend to be more customizable if a subset of students require more RAM or added storage for more advanced projects, like photography and video. A Chromebook may fulfill those demands, but tends to offer fewer options.

Both Windows devices and Chromebooks run easy-to-use operating systems, though Chromebooks’ stripped-down interface doesn’t offer the same multi-tasking power of Windows 10. If your existing devices run Windows 7 or 8, don’t forget Windows 10 training for students and teachers.

4. What are your storage requirements? Students’ storage needs are based on their device usage and work requirements. Chromebooks have a smaller amount of space, but additional cloud storage can be purchased on a monthly basis. Windows devices are easily configurable and allow for storage expansion, which is better for users who need immediate access to photos, videos, and other large files.

5. Do you want touch-screen devices? Dell offers touch options for both Windows devices and Chromebooks. Windows 10’s tablet mode and apps allow users to run most programs in both desktop and tablet modes. Chromebooks have similar functionalities for touch screens, but may not work as tablets.

6. How durable are your devices, and what support do you need? The devices you buy for a 1:1 rollout will be used every day for 10 months of the year, so they need to be tough. Dell’s Windows 10 and Chrome devices are some of the most durable in the industry. But serious damage to some machines will occur, so you’ll need a maintenance and service plan. Before settling on a device, determine what level of support you need and what repairs can be done in-house.

7. What does the future hold? Are you sold on Window 10’s voice assistant, Cortana? Do you plan to upgrade the internal hardware of your new devices? Are your students using Android applications or Google’s new storage manager feature? Ultimately, IT and school officials must think of this as a long-term IT rollout and consider how these devices will be used over the next 24 months.

Preparing for 1-to-1 rollout success

Students hate it when teachers say, “There’s no right answer.” In this case, it’s absolutely true: Choosing between a Chromebook and a Windows 10 device depends entirely on what your students need.

Though security and cost will be serious considerations, other factors also determine if a Windows 10 machine or Chromebook is right for your environment. Not vetting all of your choices can result in a failing grade in your 1:1 deployment.

What questions do you have about Dell’s Chromebook or Windows 10 offerings? Leave us a comment below or contact your SHI account executive.

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