Bring Your Own Device (B.Y.O.D.) Information for Families, 2014-2015
As technology continues to change the world in which we live, technology has become an essential part of education here at Chelsea Prep. Technology use in our classrooms focuses on developing critical research skills, opportunities for communication, individual academic enrichment, and creative, learning-centered projects. Our focus is always on having the students create rather than consume content, all within a safe, supervised environment.
In past years, while I have striven to provide appropriate access to computers as an essential educational tool, technology use in the classroom has been less than seamless due to hardware limitations. With our school growing, we simply do not have access to enough computers to allow the students seamless access. The students are often frustrated by our technological limitations, especially since the digital natives in our classrooms are often accustomed to having functional technology at their fingertips.
In an effort to nurture our digital learners and empower them to take control of their own learning, this is our second year using a B.Y.O.D. program to allow students to use personal technology devices (laptops or tablets) while at school. It was a great success last year; all of the students responsibly used their devices while at school, and then brought their laptops and tablets back home at the end of the school year. BYOD allowed the students to make documentaries, work on creating computer programs, build websites, blog, and much, much more. Please see the Q&A below to learn more about B.Y.O.D., and email me with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you have about this initiative. (ps33class344_at_gmail)
B.Y.O.D. Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What type of device should my child bring?
A: Our preference is that students bring a laptop, either PC or Apple computers are fine. (Both third grade teachers have extensive experience using and teaching with both the Windows and Apple operating systems.) We feel that laptops are the gold standard for content creation, given that students can easily type, create web content, program, and edit digital content on laptops.
Tablet devices (e.g. iPads,) are our runner-up devices. While tablets have many wonderful uses, students are often less comfortable typing with on-screen keyboards, some websites do not work properly on tablets, and installing/updating software can be somewhat more complicated.
Students do NOT need a new device at school. A hand-me-down or refurbished laptop would be perfect! (Students do not need blazingly fast devices or devices with a ton of memory.) Our main technical requirements are that the devices can wirelessly connect to the internet (Wi-Fi enabled), and ideally can hold a charge. Please install Google Chrome if you are sending in a laptop, since the students will use Google Apps for word processing, spreadsheets, etc, and this works best with Chrome. If you send in a device that is set up with administrative passwords, please provide me with the necessary information so that I can update and install software, and connect your device to the school’s wireless network.
(Hand-me-down computers are great, but if you are considering purchasing a device, perfectly fine refurbished laptops are available from many electronics retailers for about $200. Check out Notebooks for Students for some possible deals. http://notebooksforstudents.org Best Buy's website also sells refurbished laptops for under $200.)
Q: Where will the device “live”?
A: The laptop/tablet (called the “device” here,) will remain at school for the duration of the school year. It is unwieldy for the students to bring their devices to and from school on a regular basis, (the devices weigh too much in their backpacks,) and if the devices travel back and forth, they are far more likely to break. Devices will return home at the end of the school year. (We will make weekend-exceptions if you provide a note asking for your child to bring home his/her device over the weekend.)
Q: What will happen if my child does not bring a device to school?
A: Providing a device for your child is NOT mandatory, and we completely understand that it is not possible for all families to send a device to school. We have some devices at school that will be available to students who do not bring in a laptop from home, and we will make every effort to ensure that all students have access to technology while at school, regardless of whether they have brought in their own device. B.Y.O.D. is intended to augment, not replace school-owned technology, and we hope that B.Y.O.D. will free up school-owned devices to allow greater access for everyone.
Q: Who is responsible for the device?
A: Ultimately, you (and your child) are responsible for the device that your child brings to school. Chelsea Prep is not liable for damaged, lost, or stolen devices. However, we understand that third graders cannot entirely manage their devices without teacher support. We will provide a secure storage solution (locked cabinet/closet) for all devices within the classroom, as well as basic technical support. We will teach students how to responsibly care for their devices. Both third grade teachers have taught extensively with devices in their respective classrooms and have excellent track records in terms of the successful maintenance of classroom devices.
While the school is not legally responsible for B.Y.O.D. devices, as always, we teachers are responsible for how the devices are used by the students in the classroom, and we will teach appropriate digital citizenship. (Devices will join our school wireless network that enables safe, filtered web access.) Furthermore, we will make sure that all classroom technology use is purposeful and supports a rigorous curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking and social interactions.
Q: What are the “Rules” for B.Y.O.D.?
A: See the draft of the B.Y.O.D. Agreement Form and the corresponding “Acceptable Use Policy” for students. Families participating in the B.Y.O.D. pilot will be asked to sign the finalized version of the agreement after discussing the Acceptable Use rules with your children.