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Required BYOD in the High School for 2015-2016

posted May 14, 2015, 8:47 PM by Erik Arnold

Information from our Director of Instruction Technology, Tom Hinkle:


Next year, we will be requiring all high schoolers to bring a laptop to school, in a program commonly known as “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD, which is becoming more prevalent in secondary schools. This letter provides an overview of the why we believe this program is good for our school and how families can acquire a device to support their students.

Why BYOD?

Most Families already provide students with devices

Survey data collected from students and from families at Spring ILP conferences indicate that over 80% of families have devices students can bring to school already, with over half already bringing them in on a daily basis. By asking all  high school student to bring in devices, we believe we will be able to help students learn to work more effectively with their devices and to improve technology use in the classroom.

BYOD makes for better classroom computing

We believe that for most purposes, BYOD will be a more productive and better model than providing students with devices in the classroom. Having students use their own devices at school means students will build familiarity over time with the ins and outs of their system, learning to work effectively with the same device at school and at home. While we anticipate many families will buy devices similar to those the school now provides, students with a particular interest in computing may seek out other devices that enable them to do other kinds of work, whether that be the budding programmer who wants to run linux or the aspiring musician who wants Apple's garageband. Enabling students to control their own devices helps them have a sense of ownership and responsibility toward the technology they use every day, and we believe that ultimately, that can only benefit learning.

 

1:1 computing helps school model 21st century productivity

In the classroom, giving all students access to devices will allow teachers and students to make more frequent and more efficient use of computing. This does not mean that students will spend all day in front of screens. On the contrary, we believe multi-modal learning is important, and it is important that students have opportunities in class for a wide variety of activities. In many cases, what BYOD will enable  teachers to make efficient uses of technology for a portion of a class, rather than for the whole class. In an English class, for example, it will now be possible for students to complete a quick journal prompt online or answer a quick survey in a google form, giving the teacher a gauge of reading comprehension before diving into class discussion. In a science class, students might use computers not just to record data, but to collaborate on research notes, access maps and satellite imagery, or try out online simulations — all activities that rarely merit signing out computers for a whole class period, but that enhance learning nonetheless. In all classes, making sure all students have devices at school and at home means allowing teachers to rely on computers to communicate assignments and deadlines, give students avenues to ask for extra help, and, in many cases, complete, collaborate on, and hand in work without the use of a printer. Many of these practices are already in use at IACS; asking all students to bring a device will help them become the norm.

In short, we believe that in the year 2015, a computer is essential to the work of our school — researching questions, tracking and completing projects, collaborating with peers and teachers, and reflecting on and documenting work. Asking students to come in with this device is simply acknowledging that students will do better learning if they always have the tools they need at their disposal.

 

Thank you for your help getting out school to 1:1 computing. Please contact me  with any questions or concerns.

 

Thomas M. Hinkle

Director of Instruction Technology

thinkle@innovationcharter.org, 978-649-0432 x4156.

GETTING A DEVICE
Important Information for High School Families

Purchasing Devices

We have created a BYOD webpage under “Families” on our webpage with recommendations for purchasing new machines as well as with recommended specs for families wondering if an old machine will work for school. The recommended base chromebook model costs under $200.

Our survey results indicated that most families did not prefer to purchase devices through the school, so we will not be selling devices ourselves. However, we will be asking you to let us know what you plan to buy so that we can plan our instruction accordingly.

We understand that not all families will be able to afford laptops. The school has planned to loan a chromebook to students whose families who cannot provide a device (we have budgeted for devices for students who are qualified for free or reduced lunch).

We ask that all families of incoming high schoolers complete a brief electronic survey letting us know how they plan to provide a device for their child for the 2015-2016 school year.

 

FAQ

What if our family can’t afford a laptop?

We believe that with prices under $200, laptops are more affordable than ever now. Nonetheless, we know some families will not be able to afford laptops and the school will loan laptops to students who need them. We’ve budgeted to supply laptops for all families who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

 

Families will need to sign an agreement to be responsible for the care of the device in order for it to go home with students. Returning families need to have requests for laptops in by June 15th.

 

Can I buy protection against spills or breakage of a device?

Many manufacturers provide coverage that can be purchased with a device. In addition, SquareTrade  sells plans that can be bought independently. SquareTrade protection plans are also available with many devices when you buy them through Amazon.

 

Can my middle school student purchase one of the recommended devices?

Yes, and we encourage them to. A significant number of families felt middle schoolers were not ready to bring devices every day, so we are not requiring them. That said, if you would like your child to bring a device, please send them in with one.

Do I need to communicate my plans to the school?

Yes, please! There’s a quick survey that has been mailed to families and is available on the BYOD page under Families that will help us plan for next year.

How can my student secure their laptop at school?

All students at the middle and high school  are provided with lockers. We encourage families to send in locks with students and we will encourage students to lock their devices in their lockers when they are not with them. Students who have received a loaned device will be able to request a lock if needed.

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