I recently read this article: Which should I buy a PC or a Mac? I know it is a perennial topic but it made me think – what does a teacher need in their ‘Tech Toolkit?’ For this post I am thinking about hardware rather than software, which is another story. Of course many people will have their own ideas but what should be the minimum?
What should be in a teacher’sTech Toolkit?
I think the following should be the minimum for a teacher’s tech toolkit:
an external hard drive
Now I will explain why I think this!
Why have a portable hard drive?
Let’s start with possibly the least obvious. External, portable hard drives are cheap and can be used to keep a back up of your data. They typically use a small size hard disc (that keeps the overall package small) and do not need a power supply. They are powered when plugged in to the USB slot on your computer. They come in a number of sizes (e.g. 500gb, 1tb, 2tb, 3tb). There is not a lot of point in buying a very large capacity unless you have a lot of video to store. As a rule of thumb get one with the same capacity as your computer. If this gets full over time buy another – the price will have fallen by then!
Once you have your external hard drive remember to use it from time to time! If you are using one on a day to day basis you should have another one stored somewhere safe. I know of people who have had break ins and lost the photos stored on their computer and the back up hard disc, which has been stored nearby. Why not leave one in a safe place at work? Or at your mum’s?
Why have a smartphone?
If you already have one you will probably know why. If not consider this: smart phones have a camera, and a video or sound recorder. You can use your smart phone to record activities instantly and you can access google or Pinterest there and then. You can even make phone calls. Just make sure that it is on silent mode, and it is rude to look at it while ‘listening’ to people.
Why have a laptop?
Any recent laptop has the capability to connect to the internet and it allows you to type documents, arrange photographs and look at or edit video. A laptop is obviously portable. How portable you want to make it depends on your needs. If you are always on the move the lighter the better – and that means more expensive.
What are the alternatives?
At the minimum a teacher should have a laptop, smartphone and external hard drive but there are some other things that may also fit your needs.
A desktop computer
If you are working in one place and use the computer for hours on end you should consider getting a desktop computer if only because it is better for you. The ergonomics of a separate keyboard and adjustable screen are better for your back, neck and eyes. You also get more bang for you buck with a desktop (compared to a laptop) and they are much more expandable.
A tablet can do many of the things that a smartphone does and will offer a larger screen. This could be an alternative to a smartphone – but do you really need both?
So what do I actually use?
For everyday use: An Apple Macbook Air (mid 2013) with 8 Gb of RAM and 256 Gb solid state hard drive running OSX (work supplied)
For back up: 500 Gb portable hard drive (USB)
Home computer: Dell Inspiron (2011) 4 Gb RAM and 500 Gb hard drive. (I can plug this into my TV using HDMI cable) running Windows 10
Smartphone: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact with 64 Gb SD card running Android 5