Using What You’ve Got

7 tips to easily (and affordably) upgrade your school’s computers. 

GUEST COLUMN | by Jonathan Weech

CREDIT crucial micron.pngIn today’s modern classroom, computers are the new “paper and pencil.” With schools relying on technology more than ever, it’s increasingly important to ensure these systems are running smoothly and securely – after all, waiting on slow computers not only wastes valuable class time, but also causes students to lose the focus that teachers work so hard to achieve.

Unfortunately, amidst the reality of today’s shrinking education budgets, it is often challenging to deliver computers with the speed and reliability students and teachers need to succeed. But fortunately, instead of spending money on expensive new computers, there are easy and affordable ways school administrators can instantly increase their systems’ speeds, while also saving money and getting more years out of their current computers in the process. The antidote to replacing computers completely is upgrading existing systems with more memory (RAM) and solid state drives (SSDs).

In a way, memory is like a desk: it allows us the space to work on all sorts of projects, and the larger the desk, the more papers, folders, and tasks we can have out at once.

Taking a step back, memory is a component in the computer that allows teachers and students to perform many of the everyday tasks they rely on for work – such as loading applications, browsing the Web, working on a spreadsheet or Word document, etc. In a way, memory is like a desk: it allows us the space to work on all sorts of projects, and the larger the desk, the more papers, folders, and tasks we can have out at once. An SSD on the other hand – also known as your storage drive – is a component in the computer that accesses and stores your files, applications and operating system. Continuing the same analogy, if you wanted to leave your desk and put your projects away, you would want to put them in a filing cabinet for safekeeping (cue your SSD).

Below are seven ways that upgrading existing computers with more memory and SSDs can help IT administrators improve student efficiency:

  • Maximize class time and keep students engaged: Near-instant boot times, improved system responsiveness and seamless multitasking can help maximize limited class time and help students learn to use technology more efficiently while also maintaining their attention.
  • Better withstand the punishment of everyday classroom use: Because they don’t use small mechanical moving parts to read data, SSDs are inherently more durable than hard drives and can withstand the wear and tear of classroom life.
  • Boost online classes, virtual classes, and educational apps: The classroom is changing – as more school work gets done online, computers and servers need more RAM and SSDs to power the digital classroom, not bog it down.
  • Use more intensive apps or programs: Many media and design apps that are now used in schools, such as Adobe Photoshop, Pro, Premier, all require lots of system resources. Using them in the classroom improves real-world application and better prepares students who are entering the workforce. These are skills that go outside the typical skillset of Microsoft 365 for example, and can help students succeed in the work world.
  • Improve student and teacher performance without draining your IT budget: Installing more memory and SSDs instantly speeds up computers that are used for almost everything in modern education – and doubling a system’s memory from 4GB to 8GB and adding a 275GB SSD often costs 75 percent less than buying a new system. When budgets are tight, it’s key to upgrade instead of fully replace!
  • Avoid lengthy downtime upgrading your systemsMemory and SSD installations are quick and easy, so your school’s system upgrades won’t require significant downtime – plus, to maximize the learning value of an upgrade, you can teach students in computer science courses how to install memory and SSDs – a valuable skill they can take outside the classroom.

Having a limited IT spend doesn’t have to be a liability – with the appropriate knowledge about upgrading your existing devices instead of replacing them, schools can decrease IT spending and save more funds for other classroom-related upgrades—like digital textbooks!

Jonathan Weech has more than 20 years of experience in the technology sector with specific background in product development/design engineering, product marketing, brand marketing, and technical sales. He has a BA in Business Administration with special emphasis in marketing and management from Northwest Nazarene University.

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