Protect Your Investment: The Importance of Rugged and Shockproof Devices for Students
There is no dispute that electronics are not a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have in one’s educational journey. With the global digitization of education, students in the modern day classroom usually access educational materials through electronic portals (such as Moodle), research information online, or download e-books and papers from the Internet. Beyond primary school, essays and presentations are rarely done outside a digital context. In high school, students are assigned group projects and will thus need to use tools and devices that will help them communicate and collaborate on their assignments. The role of the Internet in education is such that it is now indispensable for academic success in both developed and developing countries.
The Covid pandemic, along with the online or hybrid learning trends that it created, has only re-emphasized the indispensable role of electronics in education. It is, therefore, no longer odd to hear of students who never owned physical books, notebooks, or pens throughout the entirety of their education process.
With these trends, electronic devices have become a key investment for students, regardless of age. Laptops remain more of a primary device to own; although devices such as tablets are not always essential for a student (assuming that a computer or laptop is already in possession), their lightweight nature can make it much easier for a student to work anywhere they wish.
Device damage: common causes and what is at stake for school-aged students
Electronic devices for school, such as laptops and tablets, are crucial for students as they enhance learning, allow for collaboration with peers, provide access to a vast array of online resources, and foster digital literacy skills. These devices are essential to students both during and after school and often accompany their owners wherever they go.
It is hence unfortunate that device damage is something that happens often among school-aged students. Scenarios can include:
- Spills: Spills are often unintentional and are likely to happen in a classroom. At times, spills on one child’s device may be caused by another students’ carelessness.
- Falls or bumps: School-aged children frolic often. Playful runs and chases may sometimes result in falls or bumps into one another, which may lead to damage if a device happens to be nearby.
- Lack of experience using electronic products and lack of supervision: It is likely that school-aged children do not know enough about their devices to use them properly. They could, for instance, overcharge (or undercharge) their batteries on a long-term basis, causing internal damage. If unsupervised, they may also leave their devices lying in unsuitable areas of a school, such as next to a fish tank (where splashes can happen), on the floor (where someone may accidentally step on it), or on the ground (where dirt can easily enter the nooks and crannies of a laptop).
- Rough handling or slips of the hand: Children are often more energetic and tend to use less caution when handling their belongings. This applies to their electronics, and a slip of the hand can cause irreversible damage.
- Curiosity: School-aged students are often curious about the objects they own, and may want to take things apart to see how they work. Damage may happen in the process if parts are not removed using appropriate tools and care.
- Tough climates: For some other school students who live in tougher climates (e.g., deserts, rainforests, or regions with brutal winters), their laptops might also give in to the test of the environment.
- Natural wear and tear: Devices simply suffer wear and tear over time due to long hours of study and cannot function as efficiently after a certain number of years.
While some of the above scenarios are preventable to a certain degree (e.g., wrapping up the device with a waterproof bag going into the rain), sometimes caution simply isn’t enough to stop mishaps from happening. Many of these are also unavoidable over time.
A look into rugged and shockproof devices, therefore, is a wise investment of time.
What are rugged and shockproof devices?
So what are rugged and shockproof devices, and what are their superpowers?
Rugged laptops, also known as ruggedized laptops, are devices designed especially to endure shocks (e.g., rough knocks, stress, and falls) as well as tough conditions (e.g., dust, abnormal levels of moisture, and extreme temperatures). By design, they carry a thick, sturdy external housing and can endure more than other normal, standard laptops in the market. They have specialized components that ensure better functionality in less forgiving environments.
Oftentimes, a rugged laptop is designed for use in certain workplace contexts, such as industrial manufacturing, military, construction bases, oil rigs, or rescue team environments. While the classroom seems like a more quiet setting, rugged computers can still protect the device’s functions when accidents happen in busy lessons or during recess. It can also prevent unwanted expenditures.
Military grade certification for education
To ensure that rugged laptops actually function as intended, they often undergo multiple rigorous, strenuous tests during the design phase. There are several different types of certification, such as Ingress Protection, ATEX, NEMA, and MIL-STD, that indicate the quality of rugged devices. The most common, and perhaps best certification for school devices, is the MIL-STD certification.
The MIL-STD 810h certification
Mil-STD-810 is a widely recognized and adopted military standard that tests the durability and ruggedness of equipment in various environmental conditions. It has become a benchmark for rugged devices, including laptops, and is often referenced by manufacturers to demonstrate their product’s ability to withstand harsh operating environments.
First developed in the mid-20th century, the MIL was initially an American military standard for testing the strength of devices. The original guidebook for its standards totals to around 800 pages, featuring approximately 30 tests of integrity against brutal weather conditions as well as strong physical force. The US military itself does not regulate this certification now, although it is still used widely as a reference for durability. Having replaced the MIL-STD-810G, the MIL-STD-810H is now the most recent version (2019).
The certification itself looks at the height from which a device can still be functional (‘survive’) after a drop. How much prolonged vibrations it can withstand is another aspect considered in this certification. In addition, the testing also includes temperature and humidity resistance, making it a comprehensive certification for rugged laptops.
Why schools and parents should consider investing in rugged electronics
Rugged devices are reliable, functional, and most importantly, still greatly affordable for both individuals and schools. An investment in a physically stronger device will be worthy, given the unpredictable events that may happen while using a laptop.
Acer has been actively involved in bettering the education of students worldwide. In New Zealand, the Manaiakalani Education Trust’s (MET) school children in both urban and rural areas have benefitted hugely from the durable, sustainable nature of Acer’s rugged laptops. In North Yorkshire, UK, Filey Jr school’s investment in providing each student with an Acer Chromebook has paid off; students could more effectively download and use educational applications, gaining timely feedback from teachers and peers. With the support of Acer Chromebooks, education has been facilitated, and students have been able to perform better on national tests, exceeding the national average.
When it comes to Acer’s rugged laptops, there is a wide variety of choices to browse, mainly Acer Chromebooks for schools and the TravelMate B series:
How do Acer’s rugged devices compare with those of competitors’?
Although rugged laptops are not uniquely produced by Acer, there are areas whereby Acer stands out from competitors:
While companies often consider laptops for education among school-aged children or older, it is important to remember that digital education nowadays may begin as early as infancy. Acer meets two rigorous toy safety standards: UL/IEC 60950-11 and ASTM F963-162.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 512 is strictly designed to meet UL/IEC 60950-1 safety standard, investigated by the UL 696 safety electric toys, meeting the ASTM F963 toy safety for kids over the age of three. Its surface has also been created to meet the ASTM F963-16 Toy Safety Standard and Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPCIA) of 2008.
Widened brackets that reinforce or protect the LCD panel
Students often mishandle laptops by moving them while open, putting stress on the panel and potentially causing damage. Unexpected excessive forces on the screen can cause damage to the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panel. Acer's widened brackets provide a solution to this problem, reinforcing the LCD panel and protecting it from excess stress during such handling.
Reinforced ports with metallic plates
Acer’s reinforced I/O ports contain metallic plates firmly secured to the chassis. This ensures that the ports remain in place during tough situations, surviving repeated use more than a normal laptop could.
Electronic devices have the potential to make or break students’ educational journeys, and Acer gives every effort to ensure that their laptops meet rigorous criteria. Should you wish to learn which rugged computers are best for your school or children, reach out to Acer for a technology consultation.
Esme Lee is a science writer and editor in the UK, carrying a passion for tech copywriting. She has a background in educational neuroscience and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge.