Giving Compass' Take:

• Schools need technology to prepare students for the workforce, but deciding which devices will best-serve the students and schools is difficult. Figuring out long-term costs and benefits is key to decisionmaking. 

• How can philanthropy help guide the process and support schools with technology? How can stakeholders come together to decide what makes sense for their schools? 

• As the EdTech field continues to grow, they questions will also grow. Find out why evaluating EdTech is key to success

Google and Apple both made big education technology announcements unveiling new products designed for schools. That means two new options for administrators to consider in selecting the best devices for their students. Google’s first Chrome-powered tablet will create new competition for Apple, just as the company announced a new iPad, complete with augmented reality capability, the Apple pencil, and a 10-hour battery.

Both tablets will retail for $329. But a Hechinger Report investigation found the price districts pay for ed tech hardware and software can vary widely, with Apple devices in particular. One district got almost $1 million knocked off a large order, even though the company has a reputation for not negotiating at all, beyond offering its education discount from retail prices.

The ed tech purchasing process can be fraught with frustration, particularly if districts know they’re not getting the best deal. But price isn’t the only thing tech directors consider when choosing a device.

When school districts buy laptops for students to use in the classroom, the cost doesn’t stop at the price per device. There’s the cost of the warranty, professional development for teachers to learn how to incorporate the devices into their lesson plans and troubleshoot tech problems, repairs for inevitable damages and the price of software those laptops run.

Mao said focusing only on the cost of an individual laptop is like buying a car without factoring in the cost for insurance and gas.

Read more about which devices are best for America's schools by Tara Garcia Mathewson at The Hechinger Report