Bring Your Own Device Parents' Information

Introduction for the BYOD evening 21 May 2014

ICT is one of the most important issues facing schools today;

·        From a financial point of view – which route to take and how to finance it?  The pace of change has accelerated to such a degree that any hardware purchased by schools today may be obsolete almost immediately.

·        From an educational point of view – what aspects can really drive improvements in learning and what are mere gimmicks?

·        From a security and pastoral point of view – with increasing access to the internet and an increasing variety of devices, how can we ensure that students will not misuse the freedom and cause harm to themselves and others?

·        From a practical point of view – how will we manage the number and variety of devices?

In preparing a strategy for the future, we considered and sought advice from different sources:

·     Independent Schools Bursars’ Association – they conducted  a survey of schools in the sector to find out

·     Attendance at conferences – several staff have attended briefings and conferences devoted to exploring the issues

·     Trends in educational IT – what applications are being developed and are being used already

·     Contacting other schools already down the route.  For example, some schools have simply informed parents that their children must be equipped with an i-pad

·     On-line resources from different organisations providing advice, and guidance about the potential pitfalls and advantages

The survey conducted in school showed that an overwhelming number of parents and pupils either already possess or intend to purchase a device of some kind including smartphones, tablets or laptops.

Teachers in several subject areas were already using the apps which were presenting many new possibilities for teaching and learning, specifically in independent learning and enabling children to learn at their own pace.

Ultimately, there is no going back.  This technology is here to stay and it would be foolish and frankly unprofessional if we did not embrace it and share it with our students for the best possible outcomes

However, there are some issues which may be foremost in your minds at the moment:

·        Finance; we recognise that for some families the outlay for more than one child could seem prohibitive.  This is why we have not insisted on one particular device; as far as possible children should be able to use whatever you already have.  We have also asked Syscap to provide alternative financing arrangements so that devices may be paid for over a longer period.  This scheme will also provide an excellent insurance policy.  

Syscap offers an attractive financing package for parents which includes comprehensive and responsive insurance protection.  Full details are available via the link below.  It also includes a list of suitable devices which the Syscap offer supports.  However, the deadline for applications is Friday, 4 July.

You may, of course, purchase your own device from any source though it should at least match the specification of the devices named on the list.

Syscap - Product and Finance Information

We have chosen what we believe to be 4 suitable devices, both from an economical, practical and capability point of view, details of these can be found by clicking on the links below.

For further detail and to place an order for your preferred device/laptop click

·        All or nothing? We are not proposing that our more traditional methods of teaching will simply be ditched or that students will be using devices in every single lesson from September.  As I have said, some teachers are using them already.  We are only expanding on this and will develop their use further in the coming year.  The project will unfold over time as the students and we become more skilled.

·        Security and discipline; As you can imagine, this had been high on my list of concerns.  We hear a lot about the dangers of unfettered internet access and misuse of devices to cause harm to others.  The BYOD project does not actually change anything in that regard.  Our students already have such devices in school with them a lot of the time.  The existing disciplinary code covers the misuse of devices and if students are using them without permission, they can be confiscated.  That will not change.  In most cases, misuse is most likely to occur out of school hours.  The school wi-fi network is protected and unsuitable sites should not be available to them.  Students are taken through and have to sign our ICT Acceptable Use Policy on an annual basis and you will be sent copies of this in the end of term mailing.  It is also available on our school website.

It is understood that no system is fool-proof and therefore constant vigilance will be required by us and also by you as parents.

·        Lost or uncharged devices?: Again, the usual rules apply.  It will be no different to children turning up without books or equipment. The usual sanctions will apply.

There are many other issues to cover and it is hoped that our speakers and presenters this evening will help to answer the questions you have.  In this regard, Sarah Colbourne will explain how the interactive element of this will work this evening using the Today’s Meet app.

BYOD Questions raised during the 'Today's Meet App' at the BYOD Presentation evening

Does my child have to have a device by September?

Based on information parents and pupils have told us nearly all households already have or are seriously considering purchasing a device in the very near future.  If pupils already have a compatible device then this is adequate, but as devices are purchased or replaced we would ask you to keep the BYOD initiative in mind.

Will a smartphone allow my child to access everything?

To most things yes, but the smaller screen size does mean apps are more difficult to view and control.  Also as more typed work is submitted a larger keyboard becomes a necessity.  It can be very difficult writing essays on a phone screen!

What about insurance?

Devices purchased through Syscap are leased and therefore covered by their insurance.  Any other device is not covered by any school policy and should be insured either through home insurance or a ‘gadget’ insurance policy.  There are many different suppliers of this type of insurance, including Syscap.

If a device runs out of power can it be charged at school?

Devices should be brought to school fully-charged.  There will not be provision to charge devices at school.

What if my child forgets their device?

A forgotten device will be treated exactly the same as any other piece of forgotten equipment, such as games kit or a calculator.  Depending on the activity there may be opportunities to share or use a spare device.  Pupils will be expected to catch up with any missed work exactly as they are now.

Storage space can run out very quickly on some devices.  Has anything been put in place to help with this?

Each pupil currently has a Google drive with 25 Gb of storage.  This cloud storage can be accessed from everywhere and documents can be shared with other users, emailed or printed as required.