Matching your 'use case' to the appropriateness of technology

I often talk about the "appropriateness" of the technology you purchase within your budget. You don't want to overspend with bells and whistles you'll never use, or underspend on a device that turns out to be underwhelming and raise your blood pressure instead.

It is important to determine your "use case," or the activities you anticipate using a device for, when determining what is appropriate for you. An analogy of said appropriateness is buying everything and the kitchen sink when you only heat up frozen dinners for your meals.

This year my wife and I waited until the last minute, which was the sales-tax-free weekend in early August, to start shopping. The Covid-19 pandemic affected the technology industry with shortages of critical components. It also wreaked havoc to a wide breadth of non-technology industries such as the automobile industry, because even internal combustion engine-based cars rely on a "brain" that is electronic, aka computer, to run.

Subjectively, whether online or in stores, I didn't see supply scarcity leading to markups in general technology device choices with the exception of specialty items.

By way of reminder, the tips for parents/grandparents/guardians for technology shopping have not changed much for some time now. One important tip: do your homework as appropriateness also applies when shopping for back-to-school technology devices.

I perused the Bay Village City School District website and found information on their "One-to-One Chromebook Program" for kindergarten through grade 12. Having designed and implemented an One-to-One program for a gifted school, it was refreshing for me to read about a well-thought-out program.

According to the information available on the website, Bay's K-8 pupils have access to Chromebooks in class while Bay High students will be able to take their school-issued Chromebooks home. This saves money as the technology fee assessed seems very reasonable to me.

Most importantly, though, the program removes the guesswork of what device to get for your child. Additionally, true to the current times we're in, the website provided information on online meeting/collaboration tools such as Zoom.

With the Delta variant and the expectation that herd immunity is not reachable anytime soon, we know tools like Zoom can again become the methodology for instruction delivery at a moment's notice. We Americans and the rest of the world had baptism-by-fire in 2020, whether WFH (working from home) or schooling. By the way, this tip is the same for private schoolers too.

For students heading to college, similar research is recommended but the major/degree pursued will weigh heavily on the appropriateness of needed devices. Simply put, an entry level laptop computer may be underpowered depending on the major pursued, with disciplines in computers/sciences/engineering requiring more computational power.

Whether shopping for back-to-school technology devices or for yourself, appropriateness that matches the expenditure to your use case goes a long way in preventing buyer's remorse. For the latter scenario of shopping for yourself, since we are talking about Chromebooks, I also want to reiterate that Chromebooks for non-educational settings can be appropriate if your use case is confined to activities such as browsing, streaming, and various methods of communication such as email, messaging, and video meeting; Chromebooks are best utilized while connected to the internet.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 13, Issue 16, Posted 10:12 AM, 08.17.2021