How can you know that the hardware and software you are buying will have a reasonably long, active life, and won’t become obsolete too soon?
By its very nature, technology soon becomes obsolete. However, there are elements you can look out for when buying or replacing equipment. For example, if you’re putting in a brand-new server, or buying a laptop or desktop, always make sure it’s on the latest Intel chip set. If it’s eighth generation (Workstation) or Purley (Server), you know it’s going to have a good five-year span ahead of it.
For schools and universities to maximise their investment in tech, it’s worth looking into an extended warranty. There are five-year warranties available for laptops and notebooks, and seven-year warranties for servers.
Can you give us some examples of general green credentials: do some forms of edtech use less energy and other resources than others?
Schools have now got less than 18 months to leave Windows 7 and upgrade to Windows 10. As a result, a lot of hardware will reach the end of its life, as it’s unable to support new software. Having a Windows 10 migration plan in place now, and checking that your current hardware can support the new software, will ensure your equipment won’t need to be replaced within the next couple of years.
What about more general green credentials: do some forms of edtech use less energy and other resources than others?
The average secondary school runs two to three servers and a Storage Area Network (SAN) which takes up a lot of space and uses a considerable amount of energy for cooling. A quick way to solve this is with hyper-convergence and virtualisation of your servers. With all storage and compute housed within a single box, it takes up significantly less space in your cabinet, and the processors on board use less heat, power and need less air-con for cooling, which is significantly more environmentally friendly than a traditional system.
For schools and universities to maximise their investment in tech, it’s worth looking into an extended warranty.
How can refurbished tech help an institution’s sustainability?
Refurbished offerings are great for sustainability as a whole, as there’s no need for a computer or device to be built in its place. This reduces an institution’s carbon footprint, requires fewer natural resources, and usually doesn’t need to be shipped long distances. However, refurbished machines don’t always tick the future-proofing box, as the model is often around two or three years older than a brand-new purchase. It’s always important to buy from a trusted supplier who can advise on the age, lifespan and battery life of the model.
How much of the sustainability equation is about sourcing the right products, and how much is about helping teachers to adapt their teaching, in order to use edtech more sustainably?
This could only really be answered fully by a teacher, as they are the ones who build the curriculum. That being said, in terms of helping teachers adapt, I’ve recently seen a lot of schools move to cloud, either on G-suite or Office 365. This allows devices to access internal systems anywhere in the world, which offers teachers the opportunity to work more flexibly or employ Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This is particularly useful for educators who work for multi-academy trusts (MATs), who can often find themselves working across several sites.
Sustainability is also about upkeep. Which solutions are the most streamlined and don’t need continual updating?
Chromebooks are incredibly low maintenance when it comes to updates. Once you open one up and switch it on, the operating system is updating in the background. You just charge it up and log in and you’ll be running on its latest system. It’s also great for teachers and students as they are light, and you don’t need a technical whizz to set one up. Also, as Google backs everything up to the cloud, you have complete peace of mind that all your work is safe.