How do I decide which drone to buy for my school?
Which drone should I buy for my school?
This is often a question that we get asked by teachers when they are thinking about getting started in using drones in their school. Now this is a hard question to answer, and often we ask back a number of questions, such as...
- What learning outcomes are you looking at using the drone for?
- How much experience flying drones have you and the students had before?
- Are you wanting to fly indoors or outdoors?
- If you are flying outdoors, have you checked if you are in a restricted airspace or not?
Our recommendation is always to fly with the smallest drone possible, to achieve the learning outcomes you are looking for. This reduces the risk profile, it reduces the cost of purchase and it also ultimately means more hands on time with the drones for your students.
Flying indoors vs flying outdoors also means that different rules apply from the airspace regulatory body such as CASA in Australia of the FAA in the US. You can read more on flying indoors in Australia here. In the USA, you can fly micro drones indoors and don't require a Part 107.
Our Education Director, Dr Karen Joyce has done up a quick video to explain a bit more on it all.
If you want to buy some microdrones, but are unsure which to buy, then we have written a blog on three popular ones here.
Ready to buy a drone, we are an authorised DJI reseller in Australia. Purchase here...
Would rather read? Here is the transcript
I'm often asked by teachers, which is the best drone for them to buy as part of their learning experiences in the classroom and the school. So I thought I'd address that by having a look at some of the common drones that some teachers are already using.
So starting from the smallest, we have both the Parrot Mambo and the DJI/Ryze Tello, which are very similar. The Parrot Mambo was discontinued late last year and the Tello is still on the market. They are nice and small and both have a camera in them. The Mambo has a camera just in its belly but also as an attachment on the top for forward-facing photos and videos, whereas the Tello has the camera just facing forward and it is a slightly better camera being a 5 megapixel camera.
Now they are both really good drones for working indoors, but I don't really recommend using them outdoors. They're really heavily affected by even small breezes. They are wonderful for teaching concepts of how we use drone safely and I use the Mambo at the University level for both my undergraduate and postgraduate students. I find this a really really good drone to teach basic concepts in a really safe and effective manner.
Now if you want to step up a little bit from that to get something with a better camera we have for example the Spark. So this has the camera on the front but it's on a gimbal so you can point it downwards as well. So it is definitely a better camera and then all the way up to something like the Mavic which is a much bigger drone. With this comes a much larger risk profile and it is much more expensive as well, but the camera is significantly better.
So it really depends on what it is that you are trying to achieve with your learning with your students. If you want to create a more professional level photographic or videography type experience or even get into mapping then something like the Mavic is going to be better for you. But the chances are you might only be able to have one at your school.
Now for me, I like to teach with students getting their hands on as much as possible. So teaching a whole class of 30 students with only one drone up in the air that someone else is flying, for me that's not really a great learning experience for them. If the objective is for them to work with the data, once it comes off then great. On the other hand, if you really want the students to be getting their hands on with the drones, something like the Mambo we can we can fly lots of these at once.
So we've had up to 18 of these flying at once and students work in teams of three and they get that full experience of being able to code the drone, deal with mission planning and various different scenarios and even take those aerial photos. So while it may just look like a toy, I do recommend that you really think about what your use case is and opt for the smallest drone that you can get away with. This reduces your risk profile and of course reduces the financial expense at the end of the day. And if you can get away with using something that may be categorised as a toy then I'm all for that. And like I said, I use the Mambo at the University level way before students will progress to the next size drone.