BYOD: it’s all happening in 2013!

At Garin’s July Board meeting, we decided that we will expect year 9 students coming in 2013 to bring a computer to school from their first day. This page is to help families work out what that will mean.

Parent Forum

1. Values based Internet Safety Protocols at Parent Forum

In the first of a series of parent forums to be held over this year supporting our BYOD initiative, parents, teachers and students met last night in the library to hear a presentation by leading New Zealand expert John Parsons on the subject of Internet Safety.
John delivered a hard-punching and perceptive presentation of the serious risks and issues arising from increased internet use.
Awareness, pragmatism and affirmative action appears to be the key response to addressing these issues and very real dangers, and John had many practical suggestions that parents could implement that would keep their family members safe in a rapidly changing internet and social media dominated communication world.
John complimented the school on its values-based philosophy and practice, and believes this, coupled with our strong (home/school) community support are key foundations on which to build an awareness and unified response to the ever-increasing but manageable risks he was alerting us to.
If you are keen to find out more about the topic of internet safety, then please connect to the BYOD link on our website for readings, and you will find important handouts provided on the night.
We will be inviting John into the school again to talk specifically to staff and students about internet safety.
Keep a look out for further school forums later in the year that will be supporting parents and our BYOD initiative.

Handouts: 1 Desire to Communicate (1)     2 Parents Valuing Identity (1)     3 Net Burn Girl (1)     4 Facts (1)

Bring Your Own Device Q & A


What is BYOD?

Bring Your Own Device: Families select a computing device that meets our minimum specs – so it will do what we need it to do at school – but also meets the needs of the student. You will see some scenarios below.

How will we provide for kids who are not as computer enabled?

Everyone will learn from each other. Other, more knowledgeable students can help at breaks in the library. Group effort. The same issue applies with pen and paper.

It is a big ask to let children to bring an expensive piece of equipment to schools, is it going to be a problem with kids taking other kids’ computers?

Teachers will have areas available to keep the computers safe when they are not in use in a computer class e.g P.E.
Many students have lockers, and we will also have powered computer lockers. Many students have smartphones much more expensive than the computers we are recommending, and we have very few problems.

Will sufficient power points be available to charge devices that do not last 6-8 hours?

No student will be using the computer for the whole day. There will be some non-computer classes (maybe only using for small parts of classes – or not much at all eg PE and some practical classes). New computers should have the capability to be used for enough time if set up for power-saving (quick screen off, low brightness etc). All classrooms have access to power for students needing to recharge, and we will have lockable charging lockers.

How will you stop students playing games in class?

The school’s proxy server can block a large portion of online games and games that use internet access to function. The school can identify games on the network and view whatever students have been on. Staff will need to be vigilant on this in the same way they are on cell-phones. We will not allow Facebook. If teachers need to use social media we will use Edmodo and a microblog. At the moment we intend to allow messaging through Google docs to allow shy students to ask questions – but will monitor that if it become the technological equivalent of passing notes!

Will accessing the internet at home be a larger cost?

Most homes have internet access, but not all. We do not expect home internet to be increased significantly because our main tools are Google docs and Moodle: both require low bandwidth compared to Youtube and the online gaming already used by many teenagers.

If we do not provide a device for our child, will we not be able to attend school? Also to do with Garin being a Catholic school.

No family will be turned away because they can’t afford a computer.

Specifically …
1. the Board is committed to doing all we can to facilitate the ownership by families (see below). We want students to take ownership of their learning and take responsibility for their computer.
2. many classrooms have PCs which will be needed for when student computers are away being fixed etc.
3. wired computers are always available during break times, and in many classrooms.

Some families don’t have internet access. How will we get around this?

Even netbooks have memory, so students will need to manage their time to ensure they download the work they will need before they go home. Many communities have libraries with broadband access. 3G can be set up to allow access from anywhere.

How will students keep up with note taking in class using a keyboard if they are not as advanced?

Computers will be rarely used for long periods of typing. Most of the information needed for the lesson will be downloaded from Moodle already keyed in. The learning takes place in the use of that material. Classroom computer use is often collaborative and so there is a good mix of talk and data manipulation or design.

What trials have you done?

We have always had a number of students on laptops, but since the whole school has become wireless we are trialling more and more different devices to discover problems. Three staff have visited Auckland schools to research educational and practical issues. We are also monitoring experiments closer to home – for instance another local school has a laptop class, which is having issues because the whole school is not wireless, so while we are talking to them, we have not been able to learn much so far..

Are there any RSI issues using small keyboards?

We don’t believe so. Computers will be rarely used for long periods of typing. Most of the preliminary information to be used in a lesson will be downloaded already-typed from Moodle. The learning takes place in the use of that typing. Some subjects such as Maths will still need paper because their set of symbols is slower on a keyboard – although Mathletics is now a well-accepted part of our programme. Classroom computer use is often collaborative and so there is a good mix of talk and data manipulation. (Research seems to point to more RSI issues among young people associated with texting than the larger keyboards.)
Also: NZQA has not yet worked out how to use computers in exams, so computer-based schools still have to train their students to write assessment answers.

How do we create a non competitive culture between devices?

We are really pushing the cheapest, lightest, smallest device available with a keyboard. We have given the attractive i-pads lower priority. We strongly recommend that families do NOT buy expensive models.

As a family considering boarding would there be procedures for transportation of students with computers in inclement weather?

No. We would expect all students walking in the rain to have coats for themselves and waterproof covers for their computers. Most schoolbags have waterproof computer compartments.

How will computers be stored in classes where they are not required eg PE

The PE faculty is having computer storage lockers built in the gym and in the foyer. Students will lock them up on their way to the changing rooms.

Is there going to be training for parents – internet safety, digital citizenship, Moodle access to check homework and assignments, NCEA?

Great idea. Yes. We are already developing a BYOD website for parents which is about to go public. Another step would be for parents to initiate a g-mail account. Doing so will allow you to access a lot of the resources and the google docs generated by the college and students. We will find out if parents are interested in an information evening in term 1.

Can brothers and sisters share a computer?

We will need everyone to have their own – just so they can be sure to have it when they need it. Schools have found that if a student brings a parent’s computer (because the parent doesn’t use it much) there will still be days when the parent needs it, so the student can’t do their work.

How will computers be stored in school breaks when they are not required (eg lunch)?

That is the responsibility of the student, but we already hire lockers and will be providing computer lockers with power for charging.

Will the Board get insurance to cover damage (or loss) caused by other students?

No. The Board cannot insure the property of private individuals.

Will there be procedures in place for reporting intentional damage – will consequences be published?

They are already in place: students causing intentional damage to school or personal property pay for replacement, and we involve parents (either through a letter, or a meeting as a consequence of a stand-down). Our Acceptable User Practice policies are already in place and posted to the BYOD site.

Will having a computer be compulsory for all students?

Head Teacher John Boyce replies: That is what I want and what I will recommend to the Board. If we have some students with, and some without, I will have to ask teachers to prepare two lessons with two versions of resources and two versions of homework for their year 9 classes. I believe that if everyone has a computer, the way teachers teach and the way students learn will be revolutionised. If there are two groups, teachers will need to compromise and the change will not happen.

What can we do if we can’t afford a computer?

The Garin Board is committed to making it happen for families with financial constraints if we go ahead. That is one reason we are recommending the (sometimes on special) $300-350 netbook. We are willing to go to our parish community and ask for sponsors for needy families (we have never been turned down!) We will organise automatic payments etc. So it can happen for everyone. But we will not be providing free computers because we want students to own the computers so they look after them.

What are the minimum specs you will accept?

Our core device is one which allows you to create and edit documents efficiently. Ideally, this requires a full-size physical keyboard and a screen large enough for you to see what you are doing. You do not require a powerful machine, and you do not need to buy any software. Nor do you need a large hard drive as you should be saving and sharing your work in the cloud. Core devices can cost as little as $400. You will not need to spend over $700.

Prioritised Minimum Specifications:
  • Wireless card with 802.11g support
  • Chrome support
  • Support for Adobe Flash player
  • Full form keyboard
  • 4-6 Hour Battery life. Ask for advice on how students can maximise their computer battery for a 6 hour school day.
  • USB Support
  • MS Office or Open Office
  • Anti-virus protection
  • Win 7, Linux, Mac OS X
  • 3 year warranty
Auxiliary devices – Tablets, Smartphones

We are not currently in a position to consider tablets as they are not considered easy to integrate in to our existing structure.

Other issues include lack of :

  • Flash support
  • USB support
  • Google support
  • Robust wireless support
  • Free software

This is Garin’s order of preference…

  1. Netbook $300-700 + warranty
  2. Laptop $500-$2000 + warranty
  3. MacAir $1500-$2500 + warranty
  4. As you can see above, we are not so keen on the i-pad ($500-800) (because it doesn’t support the teacher tools, has limited Google access, uses limited (and different) applications (which you need to buy – we are aiming for free applications), wireless is not so good, on-going cost, limited memory, not able to access NZTV ….)

Some of the mid-October netbook prices in the region are … Noel Leeming has the Acer 10.1″ Netbook (Model: NU.SGASA.001) for $448.00, and the HP 10.1″ Netbook (Model: 110-4102TU) for $499.00. Dick Smith has Acer 15.6″ Aspire AS5733Z Notebook for $549, and Compaq Presario CQ45-707TU $589. Warehouse Stationery has Compaq Presario CQ43-411TU Notebook for $487.00 and Compaq Presario CQ45-707TU Notebook for $488.00. Bond and Bond have Acer 10.1″ Netbook Model: NU.SGASA.001 for $358.40, and HP 10.1″ Netbook: Model: 110-4102TU for $374.25.

So the winner is ….

And please remember that some of these companies expect you to make an offer.

The other cost is printing (we don’t charge for internet) but with students doing their work on-line and using a drop-box on Moodle when they have finished, we expect the school’s printing to steadily decline.
Students are each given a slice of our broadband each week. If they need more they will need to ask – that is to help us monitor legitimate use. Each student signs our “acceptable use policy” and we may have to charge for illegal downloads – or non-educational downloads they have agreed they will not do. On-line games and downloading music and films slows the system down for everyone (as well as often being illegal). The Loop is a very large organisation – and if one of the schools breaks the law by stealing copyrighted material, the consequences could be NONE of us will have access to the internet.

Has Garin College done any trials in a digital classroom environment?

The Board has been investigating the move to a BYOD computer environment for some time. While we do not have had any dedicated computer-based trials, most subjects have used computers as part of their teaching and learning for more than four years. Indeed one of the reasons we found ourselves looking at 1:1 computers was the fact that three classrooms equipped with class sets of computers (as well as groups in other rooms) is no longer enough even with careful scheduling. That has meant that classes have had to forego computer use so that other classes could use them. The Board is also unable to dedicate more rooms to computers for booking because we need the rooms we have for specialist use. So nearly all faculties have had long experience of expecting students to work at school and home using computers.

Until very recently we have had very limited access to wireless, so we had to do our investigation in other schools. The Board has sent three staff to different schools in Auckland (this year to Orewa, Albany and Epson Girls), as well as being involved in the regular and strenuous discussion and shared experience led by the Nelson Loop organisation.

There have been trials done in local schools without universal wireless coverage, and the trials have been prejudiced by the need to repeatedly log on.

We have also allowed 25 students to log onto our network (you may have seen some of them pictured in the Nelson Mail recently). These students are using a range of devices and we are monitoring them for any technical problems they are having, and checking our control strategies. Because they are scattered around classes around the school teachers have not developed lessons for these devices specifically. Teachers needing computers for education are still having to book rooms.

Will there be enough lockers for each student to lock their device away safely?

The schools visited in Auckland did not have lockers for every student with a computer. Albany Senior High School had two sets of 20 in different parts of the school for 800 students. When we looked at them, under half were being used. So our Board will provide 20-40 lockers for our expected 100 year 9s, but will monitor the situation closely and provide more if there is demand for them.

Why does Garin keep repeating that the battery life should be 6-8 hours when we all know that there is no such device available on the market in the $300-$500 price range?

We are aware of the battery issues, but have found that when we lower the light on the screens of computers without DVD drives such as netbooks, and set the screen to turn off when not in use, the battery will last a lot longer.

As well, we have powerpoints scattered around classrooms so that students needing power will have access to that.

It is certainly not our intention for students to be actually using their computers for all five hours of classtime each day. Given the need for teacher exposition, practical work, discussion, viewing AV etc most students will not be actively using their computers for more than half their classtime.

Regarding battery life: it will always be a question of students working within the limitations of their machines and managing themselves and their learning. We expect students to manage their learning environment, something they will have more control over when they use personal computers for learning. BYOD gives learners ownership of their learning and control of an important part of their learning environment.

How well does the school system operate on dial-up?

The main issue is access to Moodle and Google Docs and they are not so good on dial-up. We are advising families in poor broadband areas to develop a different set of habits: eg download homework exercises before going home. Students using Mathletics now are sometimes able to access it in poor areas – but others do their work before and after school or in breaks – not ideal but students are coping.

If access to the internet at home is not essential then why are students not able to use PC’s at school, bring their work home on usb sticks and use a PC at home?

Some will have to do this – but we hope to have parents more involved in the work students are doing – so they will need to be able to access our systems eg to check what the homework is, or what has and has not been done recently, or to access work when students are away. We also expect most students to regularly work cooperatively through Google Docs. Students will be able to do the work required on their own, but we intend to enrich that learning at school, and as frequently as possible at home. We are not keen on usb/flash drives because they can introduce viruses into our system. Netbooks do have a hard drive so some work can be downloaded – but so much of the benefit from working in a BYOD environment comes for interactive learning that it is probably best to try to do the work at school. Sorry.

If you are using Google Docs on dial-up you will just have to wait for ages. Another strategy might be to download a Word doc and work locally. Google Cloud Connect is a free Microsoft app which allows you to synchronise MS Word with Google.

Will there be lessons at the beginning of the year to teach all students the basics both is use of programs and the technical side of looking after their computers, good housekeeping practices (backup), etc?

At the beginning of the year (or possibly on our Orientation Day) there will be a set of protocols, and training, and resources for students to download onto their devices. Other programs will be available for students as they need them later (probably via Moodle).

And more …

As we go more questions will come up. Please let us know:


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