Frequently Asked Questions
Why is e-learning and learning with a personal digital device so important?
It’s common knowledge that advances in digital technology are causing massive shifts in schools. At their most basic, digital technologies can be used to improve existing practices (eg. use of a shared Google Doc instead of a Word Doc). More innovatively, they can be used to foster learning in ways previously unimaginable in and beyond our classrooms. In particular, digital technologies have blown apart traditional attitudes towards knowledge, who possesses it, who can dispense it, how it’s dispensed, and who’s qualified to give feedback on student work. Digital technologies consequently provide new and more easily manageable ways of differentiating our classrooms. Students are better able now than ever before to connect with “other people, places, resources [and] online learning sites” (NZCER: Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching). They have greater access to resources that are relevant to their particular interests and ability levels.
Students are also able to make their own decisions about which technologies to use, when to access them and who to connect with. The huge amount of material available to them also means they need to learn the basics of digital citizenship, such as protection of and respect for self, others and property, as well as the ability to be critical in their use of digital material. Key competencies such as self-management take on a whole new significance when considered in the context of e-learning.
Additional research that you may find interesting:
Will students be using digital devices all the time?
No, students will be able to use their digital devices when and as agreed and negotiated with their teacher. The teacher designs the learning outcomes for the lesson or unit of work, and will decide which teaching approach best meets their students’ learning needs. Students’ background knowledge, academic performance and learning abilities will be taken into consideration for the selection of the most suitable teaching method and combination of teaching applications. Teachers will guide or discuss with students as to the appropriate use of the internet or their digital device. There will be many instances when the teacher uses non-digital teaching and learning methods to achieve the lesson’s aims. For example - face to face interaction, class discussions, group discussions, lectures and direct instruction of a particular aspect or piece of knowledge, group quizzes etc. In other instances the teacher will work with students to co-construct the way digital devices will be used.
“Technology is not meant to replace face-to-face interaction, but to enhance it.” While it may be enticing to completely transition to digital creation when mobile devices are introduced into our classrooms, there is immense value in continuing to have students create in the real world. The device may allow for editing, remixing, improving and publishing, but the physical world plays no less of a significant role” (George Couros stated in his keynote at Leading Future Learning Conference - July 2014)
What professional learning have HVHS staff been engaged in to prepare them for a BYOD classroom?
There have been two years of professional learning before school on Wednesdays focussed on modern teaching and learning practices.One part of those sessions has been directed at the use of digital technology. To support those sessions a staff help desk and a staff drop-in room runs weekly to allow teachers to work on specific parts of upgrading their knowledge and practice. In recent weeks a student group of ICT mentors have begun working with some staff as individual tutors. Two staff have taken additional responsibilities to support teachers using digital technology in their teaching. Some staff also have attended the national U-Learn Conference, and CORE Education seminars.
Many teachers are already bringing their own devices to their classes, and many students are working collaboratively with their teachers using Google-docs, EdAlta Moodle and Facebook. Most of our co-curricular groups communicate with each other via a Facebook page.
Who will support students to use their device (e.g connect to the network)?
There will be two Orientation Days at the beginning of 2015. These days will cover among other things:
- logging onto network, password
- enabling digital devices on the wireless network
- familiarisation with EdAlta Moodle and HVHS Google-Applications
Additional to this the school has a group of ICT mentors who will offer In-school technical support.
Is there a danger that the teaching and learning will not be as effective when using these devices?
World wide education research indicates that the use of devices can help student learning by:
creating a supportive learning environment
encouraging reflective thought and action
enhancing the relevance of new learning
facilitating shared learning
making connections to prior learning and experience
providing sufficient opportunities to learn
Students may be more motivated and engaged in learning when using technology. Teachers can better address differentiation and diversity (cultural, language, level of learning) through personalised learning which in a class of 30 students is made easier with the use of technology. Technology also enables teachers to help students make learning connections between other students, teachers, whanau, the wider community and the global world. Students can access resources and information anywhere, anytime. Many of our students do this by visiting EdAlta to review the day’s lessons and resources that are posted online by teachers. The devices will not be used all the time, they will be used when it is relevant and when it helps the students to meet the intended learning outcomes.
Is a SmartPhone ok to use instead of a tablet or laptop?
Smartphones are not suitable as the main device a student uses. They are useful for communicating with others via Skype, gmail, FB etc, research using various browsers, quick note taking, creating content using the camera, video, audio, and editing functions, capturing notes, diagrams and homework from the board. Smartphones have limited use for writing comprehensive pieces and higher level editing.
What about NCEA exams, reading skills and writing with pen and paper for 3 hours?
Students will still write on paper. Many students and staff employ a combination of digital work and conventional note taking in the completion of a task. In some classes this also includes the use of audio and video to share information and knowledge e.g recording language activities. However, what is important is the quality of the students’ thinking and the use of one to one computer devices has shown (especially with boys) to improve the quality of thinking and writing. Students are more likely to review and change their writing and thinking if it is in electronic format. NZQA are trialling the first digital examinations in 2015.
Our literacy team will also be encouraging staff to ensure that there is a balance between on-screen reading and reading from paper based print. It is important to develop both reading literacies.
Will students stop working with each other collaboratively if they’ve all got their own device. What about classroom discussions?
Classroom collaboration and discussion will continue. Many tasks will include co-ooperative strategies such as group discussion and problem solving that will be completed face-to-face or under the leadership of the teacher. Students will also be collaborating through Google docs when they are working on a group project, mind-mapping, planning, problem solving, editing. This also means that students can carry on collaborating at home, when they are not sitting face to face.
Will text books still be used?
Absolutely,if the teacher decides that the content of the book is relevant and useful to help them achieve the planned learning outcomes. The nature of textbooks may change as many are becoming digitised products.
What about theft, breakage and loss of the device?
Experience in other schools has been that security and care has not been a major issue. It is suggested that this is because the students own their own device and therefore take greater care of it. We hope that most students would look after their expensive electronic equipment as they do with their mobile phones, sports and musical gear. Student tablets and notebooks are often cheaper than many mobile phones - especially those students using an iphone or similar smartphone. Most devices are small and light and therefore easy for the student to carry around with them. There are Apps available to track an iPad, if it is lost or stolen. It is recommended to have insurance on your netbook/laptop in case of loss or theft. In most cases your home contents policy will cover your device but please check to ensure this is the case.
Portable devices should be protected by a username and password. This should not be disclosed to other students. Portable devices should be stored in a protective bag and care should be taken to ensure that it is with them at all times. Digital devices should never be left in unsupervised areas during the school day.The security of a student owned device is the responsibility of the student. Where possible, laptops should be engraved or labeled with the student’s name.
What about online safety?
All students sign a responsible user agreement and will be encouraged to be a good digital citizens. The school has the capacity to review any usage on site of people accessing the wifi network.
Parents and caregivers need to be aware that students who choose to use their own 3G/4G accounts (those on a personal phone and internet plan), or the wifi in their homes, McDonalds, the local library or similar locations have free unsupervised access to the internet. We advise parents and caregivers to have regular discussions supporting their children to be responsible digital citizens at home and in the community.
What happens if a student uses the digital device inappropriately?
The students’ behaviour will be dealt with in the same way that any other form of inappropriate behaviour at HVHS is dealt with. In extreme cases, and where all other restorative approaches have been exhausted, students may lose access to the HVHS wifi network and/or face serious disciplinary consequences.
What happens if the device loses power?
The device used needs to be able to last through the day. This means 4-6 hours at school. The device will need to come fully charged each day. Students will need to be sensible about the use of the device during break times.
What about the reliability of storage of student online work?
All HVHS students have a Google Drive account with 5G of storage. There are also several free storage applications such as Dropbox that can be used. Students will be able to store their work in the ‘cloud’ using Google-docs but it is advisable to download their work to a USB flashdrive in order to have an additional back up.
Buying Apps and software?
Our intention is to use free web-based, open-source software and applications whenever possible. There is no need to buy specific Apps. Some students may find several different Apps performing the same function and that is fine, e.g Pages vs Google-doc vs Word; BubbleUs vs MindMups.
What happens if a student does not have a device, leaves their device at home, or it is being repaired?
The school also has several pods of mobile devices (tablets and chromebooks) that teachers can book for their classes. If there are none available the student will need to use pen and paper for the day and catch up on the online work at home, in the school library or in their local library.
How can parents and caregivers get more information?
We plan to hold a parent evening to demonstrate how the students may use their devices at school.The first of these is on November 26th at 6.30pm in the staffroom. A representative from Harvey Norman will be present.
What device should I buy?
We have decided not to name one particular device for all parents to buy as the market is changing so rapidly that new devices are appearing all the time, the Chromebook being the most recent. HVHS has introduced Google Apps for Education so the device must be able to run Google Applications effectively.
For most students a tablet or low-level laptop will be sufficient. We strongly recommend a keyboard attachment for tablets, especially if there is no access to a computer or laptop at home. For the above reasons, and if you do not already own a suitable device we would recommend a Chromebook at this time.
Do I need to purchase everything on the stationery list?
It is anticipated that BYOD students will not require all the stationery requirements listed. There is a potential cost saving through having less stationery to purchase. Please refer to the school website stationery list for details.
What if I can’t afford to buy a device, or choose not to buy one?
Students will still have access to digital content for learning if they don’t bring their own digital device, but will process content in a different way and at different times, perhaps using a device from the school , their home computer or our computer labs at interval, lunchtime, or before and after school.
The school does have several portable pods of chromebooks and tablets that teachers can book for their class. But without BYOD, the school is limited in its capacity to provide internet and computer access to all students at exactly the time and place that they require it.
Noel Lemming and Harvey Norman both offer 12 months interest free options.
What device should I buy?
Please see the comparison table that follows. All of these devices are available from local computer hardware stores in Wellington. We advise that you shop around, keep an eye on the sales, online 1-Day or similar sites, and visit stores specialising in digital equipment. Many stores offer hire purchase or lease to buy opportunities.
The school does have relationships with Harvey Norman through our ICT provider New Era, and Noel Lemmings. Flyers for their BYOD for education programme are attached.
A Chromebook is a small portable computer similar to a Netbook that runs on Google’s Chrome Operating System.
It is like a laptop but Google specific.
light & portable
good screen size
connects quickly to the internet
easy to use
good battery life
can download a range of applications
no built in CD/DVD drive
can have multiple users (ie accounts for all family members)
cost effective option for our Google Apps
no software needed
students can access their work on other devices through Google-apps
quick start-up time (7 seconds)
all files are automatically backed up in the cloud.
An ultrabook is a computer that combines components of a laptop with the portability of a tablet.
small size laptop
full operating functionality
light and portable
good screen size
works with Google apps, word processing
good battery life
no built in CD/DVD
wide range of brands and pricing options
A portable computer.
relatively large and heavy and therefore not so popular
Great functionality in terms of access to programmes and high-end applications, as well as Google Apps
Full size screen
Good battery life
Built in CD/DVD
Wide range of pricing options from low cost to very expensive
ipad or android tablet
A tablet is a device that is similar to a smartphone with a much larger screen. They have touch screens.
small, light, easy to carry around
range of low or no cost apps
good battery life
easy access to web and email
good for recording/ capturing photos, video and audio
recommend purchasing keyboard