BYOD Guide

A few helpful notes

Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) GUIDE

At Gems International School Al Khail (GIS), the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program begins from Grade 4.  Here is some guidance on which device to purchase.  Students are expected to bring their laptop to school, fully charged each day. 

Please note that you and your child will need to sign the GIS Acceptable Use Agreement prior to the device being registered to the GIS network.  We have secure Wi-Fi coverage throughout the school.  In addition, students are taught about digital citizenship and staying safe online.  

It is essential that students have a laptop rather than a tablet or iPad because a laptop is a more versatile tool that can do many more things than a tablet. In terms of brands and specifications, you can choose a Windows or Mac laptop.

  • We highly recommend that you purchase antivirus software and/or Internet Security, which will include anti-malware and other security features. For a more detailed list please see this article at PC Magazine: The Best Security Suites for 2016 you can Google this or go direct at this link:,2817,2369749,00.asp
  • Some other recommendations to keep the BYOD secure are:

o  (Please remember to set up scheduled scans once installed)

o      For BYOD maintenance, to teach your children how to shut down their laptop correctly.  They should do this once or twice a week.  This ensures the device stays up to date.

o      Encourage children not to keep their laptops together with their drink bottles.

●      Consider the accessories - Students need to care for their laptops so it is essential that they have a carry case, laptop bag and/or cover. We also recommend purchasing a mouse with the laptop and also a set of robust headphones as students are often working with sound and multimedia projects.

  • We suggest visiting the various retailers, talking to them about their recommendations, then choose 3 possible laptops and then look up the reviews on the Internet before making your final decision.
  • Choose a retailer that has a good after sales service. The GIS IT Team can help with minor issues but we recommend taking your machine to the retailer and for any serious issues, as they will have the warranty. Sometimes it is worth paying a little bit more for an extended warranty.
  • GEMS has an arrangement with Microsoft Office, as a result, children can receive a license for MSOffice 365.  The GIS IT Team will be available to give you more information and support about this at the start of the academic year, when your child arrives with their new device.


Mac or Windows - Which BYOD do I buy?

This is a common question asked by many parents and is not a straightforward one to answer.

In our experience with ICT support for children who brings their devices to school we need to look at the important factors that contribute to our recommendation.

These include but are not limited to…

  • The weight of the machine
  • The durability
  • The susceptibility to being hit with viruses
  • The after Support one gets when buy the machine
  • The ease of use
  • The ease of installation and putting new software on

We can positively recommend:


Mac Book Pro / Mac Book Air Laptop.

The clear winner for all of these points is a MacBook Air.  They are lightweight and with a good case can be incredibly durable. Apple machines are also known to be less likely to pick up viruses. Remember that when purchasing a BYOD for your Grade 3+ child, then durability and longevity is an important factor and will prevent you having to replace it so soon.  All purchased Apple products come with a free year’s warranty, with an option to take 2-3 years extra at point of purchase.  Using this warranty is as easy as taking your machine to the nearest service center and there is none more convenient that Mall of the Emirates official Apple store just 15 minutes from our school.  MacBook’s are also user friendly and easy to use. Installing new applications and software is very straightforward and hassle free.

Of course this is only a recommendation and you are free to choose what machine you wish.  Apple MacBook Airs and especially Pros are usually a little more expensive, but they tend to last longer, so could save you money in the long term.

You can buy online at the officialUAE Apple store or more conveniently the official UAE Apple store located on the 2nd floor of Mall of the Emirates.

One further recommendation is to ask for the model that incorporates the standard USB slot and not the micro USB slot.

Windows Laptops:

If you decide to purchase a Windows laptop, it would be highly recommended to buy one of the main brands for example, Samsung, Toshiba, HP, Dell, ASUS etc.  Windows 8 or 8.1 or higher is fine, but please not the starter, basic or home versions, as these are not network capable. Ask the salesman that you intend this for an education setting in BYOD and that the operating system must be able to connect to a network. We also recommend that you go for as much RAM memory as possible, preferably 4 or even 8 Gigabytes at least is best. The Hard drive should be a minimum of 500 Gigabytes as students are often working with media and video (especially in MYP) and this uses a lot of memory. Keep an eye out for good deals at shops such as Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket and Sharif DG etc.


At present we have about a ratio of approximately 70% Windows and 30% Mac in the BYOD program.



Apple MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook Air

Processor: Intel Core TMi3 (2330M) or better

Operating System: Windows 8 (Not Starter, Basic or Home) or Windows 10


  • Microsoft Surface Pro has capabilities of a PC, but the portability of a tablet. It must have a detachable keyboard if used as a primary device.


Memory: Minimum 2GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz, preferably 4GB

Hard Drive: Up to 500GB (5400RPM)

Connectivity: 10 / 100. 1000 Gigabit Ethernet

Wireless LAN: Bluetooth optional

Ports, slots & chassis: 2 or more USB 2.0 / 3.0 slots.

Dimensions: 11-15 inch screen

Power: 6-cell (60W) Lithium Ion Battery or 3-4 hours of battery life with Wi-Fi on.

13 inch, 2.4 GHz dual core

Intel Core i5 with 4GB



500GB 5400-rpm


Intel HD Graphics 3000




Note: This laptop automatically meets power requirements

11.6 Inch, 1.6 GHz dual core Intel Core i5 with 3MB shared L3 cache

2GB 1333MHz (additional 2GB RAM available - 4GB is preferable)


Intel HD Graphics 3000




Note: This laptop automatically meets power requirements


Please feel free to email Sarah, Zeeshan or Ben with any questions, we are happy guide you in the purchase of your child’s BYOD. 


Kind regards,


Sarah Hopcroft

Digital Learning Leader

PYP Technology Coach / G3-5 ICT Teacher.


Zeeshan Nabi

MYP Technology Coach / Teacher.