Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do we need laptops, anyway? After all, the school has considerable resources and many students have access to a computer at home.
- Why not just use smartphones or a tablet?
- Will total conformity in computer equipment be required?
- What are the minimum requirements for computers?
- What software will be used?
- Do we have to buy a device through any specific provider?
- What if my son’s computer breaks down?
- What’s the life expectancy of the laptop hardware? What about the software?
- Aside from word processing and accessing data, what advantage is there in using computers for other areas of the curriculum, such as mathematical analysis, science, and history?
- How are the students expected to charge their laptop batteries?
- Is it possible to use Mac or Android computers?
- Why aren’t you recommending Apple computers?
- Will there be a change in the demands on equipment and software? How soon is such a change likely to take place? How long before the laptops and software will need to be replaced or upgraded?
- Even with the best intentions, children still lose things. How do we cope with a lost laptop? Student lockers are inadequate for storing laptops safely. How will the school deal with this problem? Will there be a secure place at school to store the laptop during lunch/sports/etc?
- Will there be filters on the laptops? Will these also be applied when the laptop is at home?
- In school, will students be allowed to use Facebook? Youtube? Other social media? Games? What about at home?
- Do you have tips for parents on managing use of the laptops when they are at home?
- How much hard disk space will you need for students? Whose responsibility will it be to back-up? The students or the schools? How will the backups be managed?
- Who will be servicing the laptops?
- What process do we follow when my son’s computer needs repairing?
- Is the College going to offer any internal service and support?
- Can my child add programs or apps to the laptop?
Why do we need laptops, anyway? After all, the school has considerable resources and many students have access to a computer at home.
“Provide students with an excellent and holistic education that allows them to contribute as global citizens who think creatively, reason critically, communicate effectively and develop the necessary skills to Learn. For Life.”
The use of computers is an integral part of preparing our students for a fast changing world. They allow children to collaborate with fellow students, staff and others from their community and the world, it allows them to express ideas using a huge variety of media that they already interact with daily. It provides the ability to gain a vast amount of information quickly and in a manner that allows them to understand concepts more in-depth. Computers allow us to teach critical literacy and thinking skills that they will need in order to select appropriate information. Computers also allow students’ learning to be more personalised to individual needs.
This cannot be achieved with computer labs or artificially organised times when students can access these resources. We want learning to be accessible anywhere, anytime.
In order for the device to be fully integrated into the learning process, it is not sufficient to have a device for only accessing and viewing content; students need to be able to create content as well.
If we allowed total BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) of any internet capable device, then learning in a classroom is pegged to the device with the least capability. For a device to be of practical use in our middle and senior school classroom environments, it must have a keyboard, and screen size sufficient to be enable collaborative learning and discussion.
No: We expect all students in years 6-10 to bring a computer to school that is a fully functioning laptop with keyboard and full up to date Windows software.
We are wanting to reduce the variety of computers in the classroom for years 6-10 as it ensures that teachers can focus on teaching and learning and not dealing with the management of multiple platforms. It is in no way an indictment on these operating systems, more a decision based on what the majority of staff and students are familiar with.
Senior School students are much more independent and capable of managing their own device for their own learning.
What are the minimum requirements for computers?
- Computers must operate as a full laptop with keyboard. Note that higher end tablet computers such as SurfacePro have the full functionality of a laptop and these are excellent choices for Middle School students, unless speciality software is required for optional classes. iPads and many android tablets do not meet this criteria and are not acceptable as their 1:1 computer.
- Must have the most up to date version of Windows (preferably Windows 8.1 or above).
- Computers should have at least an i3 processor
- They must be Wifi capable
- 4GB of RAM
- At least 6 hours of battery life
- In years 6-10, it is highly recommended that devices have a touch screen with pen input
We understand that some students already have their own laptops that may not meet all of the above criteria, and these may well suffice. Mac computers and computers without a touch screen are acceptable in the classroom at this stage, however, if families are buying new computers, we expect them to meet the above criteria. An iPad or Android tablet will NOT be acceptable as a 1:1 device in the classroom in 2016.
The school uses Microsoft Office 365 for its intranet. All students have access to Office online applications and OneDrive storage through their school account. They are also able to download Office software for free through the “Student Advantage Programme". Please click here for more information: Install Office on your PC or Mac with Office 365 for business
Generally laptops are expected to last three years. There will be the option to lease or buy the laptop, regardless of which option is chosen, it is recommended that the laptop is upgraded every three years. It is also recommended that software is no more than two versions behind the current version. The boys can keep their software up to date using the Student Advantage Programme.
Aside from word processing and accessing data, what advantage is there in using computers for other areas of the curriculum, such as mathematical analysis, science, and history?
Computers allow students to present work using a variety of media, to collaborate and communicate with a variety of people and to use a huge number of resources that are at their finger-tips. Many online apps help students to analyse and synthesise the information they are gathering so that they have a more in-depth understanding of the concepts.
Below is a list of how teachers are already using computers in the classroom. We expect this to expand as staff and students become more confident in their use:
- Office 365 Web apps (Word, Excel, Surveys, Powerpoint, Onenote) and SkyDrive cloud storage
- Virtual Classrooms through the school Portal for access to class resources (links, courses) and lessons.
- Research through web searches.
- Data analysis, graphing software and dataloggers
- Creating: Movie-making, photo and audio editing, Z-brush 3D sculpturing, Garageband and Logic composition, Pixton Comics,
- Taking photos of shared work and recording teacher or peer explanations of information.
- Voice and video recordings in a variety of subjects including languages.
- Online web apps such as YouTube, Geogebra, Pinterest, Brainpop, Powtoon, Prezi, podcasts, ClickView, simulations, Java applets, Khan academy
- On-line interactive games and activities such as Language-Q, Mathletics, MyMaths, Livewire, Bestchoice,
- Use of Virtualisation software in Humanities
- E-Texts and course material manuals
Boys must make sure that their computer/tablet is fully charged before they come to school each day. There are also secure charging lockers available at the Information Centre for students to use.
We expect all boys in Years 6-10 to use a laptop with a Microsoft operating system. This allows uniformity within classes, which is particularly important at this age group. It ensures that teachers can focus on teaching and learning and not dealing with the management of multiple platforms. It is in no way an indictment on these operating systems, more a decision based on what the majority of staff and students are familiar with.
Senior School students are much more independent and capable of managing their own device for their own learning.
Historically, our school has been using PCs and Microsoft software. We have also recently moved towards using Office 365 for online document storage and collaboration. We are not excluding Macs totally; our Music Department and Recording Studio are equipped with Apple computers with specific music and video editing software installed. However, we believe that in order to produce a successful 1:1 programme, we must make sure that staff and students are confident with the hardware and software they are using. Maintaining familiarity will certainly assist with the seamless integration of ICT into the teaching and learning process. The choice of operating system is not permanent and may change in later years as technology changes.
Will there be a change in the demands on equipment and software? How soon is such a change likely to take place? How long before the laptops and software will need to be replaced or upgraded?
While it is difficult to predict changes in technology, the laptops we will be providing through our chosen supplier will be expected to meet the needs of both students and staff for at least three years. Before any new software is recommended for a particular subject area, it will need to be checked that it is compatible with the current recommended student device.
Even with the best intentions, children still lose things. How do we cope with a lost laptop? Student lockers are inadequate for storing laptops safely. How will the school deal with this problem? Will there be a secure place at school to store the laptop during lunch/sports/etc?
While students are ultimately responsible for their own device, we appreciate that there may be time when they misplaced or stolen. We will provide provide safe storage lockers for students to keep their laptops when it is not convenient to have the device with them. Students will not be allocated one of these each, rather, the locker will have temporary passcodes, similar to a safe in a hotel room. The lockers around the school are also being reviewed.
All student access to the Internet is filtered by the College’s firewall when on the school network. The IT Department makes every endeavour to ensure the content accessed is appropriate. When at home, the filters will be dependent on what your home set-up is.
In school, will students be allowed to use Facebook? Youtube? Other social media? Games? What about at home?
Some social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are used by teachers for educational purposes, there are also some games that do have educational value. We will not be blocking these websites. Students are able to use social media sites and play games when not in class.
Any computer on the school network is monitored for appropriate use.
There are some great ideas and tips online. Please take a look at the links below.
Safety advice and tools for parents | Vodafone
The parenting place | Vodafone
Thinkuknow for Parents and Carers | thinkuknow
How much hard disk space will you need for students? Whose responsibility will it be to back-up? The students or the schools? How will the backups be managed?
Each student will have hard disk space as well as access to his OneDrive on Office 365 which has 25GB for school-based data. This is cloud-based, however, it is still recommended that he backs this data up regularly.
Please note that both the NCEA and IB student handbooks state that students must back up their own data, as any issues with technology cannot be used as an excuse for failure to meet and NCEA or IB deadline. Any other data that he chooses to save on his laptop is his own responsibility and he must back this up himself.
The College has IT staff who, through the helpdesk facility, will be able to help identify any issues with hardware and software. However, they are not in a position to fix any BYOD devices. This is the responsibility of the owner of the device. They can advise and suggest solutions only.
When an issue first arises, your child should take their device to the helpdesk facility at the College. The staff there will help your child to identify the issue. If the issue is related to software provided to them by the college (Office 365, Adobe Creative Suite, PCSchool Spider etc.) the staff will be in a position to help solve the issue and get your son back to class as oon as possible. Sometimes, they may need to leave their device with the IT staff to work on, while they return to class.
However, if the issue is with the operating system (version of Windows eg. Windows 10 or Mac OS) or hardware related, the IT staff will be able to advise your child on the best possible solution and then return the device to them. They are not in a position to work on devices not owned by the college as it may affect warrantees or insurance support.
The IT staff at the college are responsible for maintaining College owned devices only (hardware), but will provide support to students on BYOD devices for software provided to them by the College, and needed in their studies at the College. They do not service or support BYOD hardware. However, they will be in a position to provice advice on what the issue may be, and what the best possible solution to the problem would involve.
If your child's profile on the laptop is that of an administrator, or they know the administrator's password, they will be able to add/remove/alter programs as they need to. Each device's administrator's password is different and is set by the person to first set up the computer. The college's IT staff do not know these passwords and are not in a position to discover them. If your child's device is locked with an administrator's password, they will not be able to help them with any software related issues on that device.