1) Why is the BOT telling us we are moving to BYOD, rather than consulting with us about it?
Unfortunately the school has no choice with regard to whether to introduce a BYOD policy or not. The only thing we can influence is HOW we introduce BYOD, but not IF to introduce BYOD. This is important for teaching computational skills, accessing collaboration tools and modern online resources, and anything short of 1:1 devices no longer meets our needs. However the Ministry does not fund this and expects parents / the community to provide the devices. That is why a growing majority of New Zealand schools have already moved to BYOD. We have held out as long as we could, with a current year deficit projection of at least $50,000 we simply cannot afford the additional $70,000 that would be required to purchase devices on top of that deficit.
2) Why is CQS beginning with BYOD at the Year 5/6 level?
The reasons for why we want to start with the Y5/6 group, are twofold:
Firstly this optimizes the amount of use that you will get out of a device, which should last till the end of Y7/8. At College/High School, children require more expensive BYOD devices and parents will face additional financial outlay. So we want to make sure that you get the most value out of your device and amortize the investment over 3-4 years, before having to purchase the next computer.
Secondly, the Y5/Y6 age group is where we start to use online resources much more routinely in the classroom: Regular collaboration, computational thinking and abstractions are all part of the curriculum, as well as more creative use of computers. We also need to introduce all of the protocols around managing screen time, net-safety and online privacy at an age when children start to explore.
3) Why is CQS choosing to go with Google rather than open-source?
We are very conscious of the need for managing online privacy, security and content. The school has a fiduciary duty to protect children from bullying, inappropriate content and online scams as much as possible. This means that we cannot really embrace a liberal, open communication or open source environment, without incurring significant risks.
In considering our choice of devices and software platforms, we need to take into account the ability to manage, supervise and control what is accessed by students, whilst they are in class. We are specifying software platforms and devices that we know we can safely and effectively manage and control, and that we know will be compatible with our filtering software as well as our monitoring software during use in the classroom.
4) Has the BOT considered data confidentiality and the policies of Google around privacy etc given the use of chromebooks?
There are two aspects to privacy, namely what goes on in class during use of your computers at school and what happens to your data over time. We have monitoring software in place to track and supervise the content that students are accessing. They are made fully aware of this and we intervene if they get up to mischief - i.e. they have no privacy whilst using the devices in class. When a child leaves the school, their account is deleted along with all their data. We use Google’s “G Suite for Education” which has different privacy settings to regular google products -
G Suite for Education Privacy and Security
5) What are the benefits of BYOD compared to a class set of chromebooks, other than parents paying rather than the school?
Until this year, the school has been trying to run with a device-sharing policy, where we aim for 1 device to be shared between two children at the senior end of the school. This fostered collaboration and also helped manage the financial outlay required. However with the advent of COVID, device sharing and keyboard contamination has become a far more risky proposition. Each child needs to be able to communicate and collaborate with others in real-time, rather than 'taking turns' and sometimes having to complete work on another child's account, rather than their own. By having one device available for each student, we deliver a better teaching experience and can develop better computational skills and learning amongst our students.
6) Will there be basic lessons on computer skills?
Absolutely, there already are. The new digital technologies curriculum (implemented this year) also covers a diverse range of skills. A key part of the curriculum is to also cover topics such as net-safety, management of screentime, online communications and online privacy.
7) How do I balance home and school device use?
Teachers currently run a balanced programme within the class and will continue to do so. This means a mix of both technology based learning, and learning in other ways. Families will have their own views about what is appropriate for their household with regards to screen time at home. Netsafe provides some good advice and strategies for implementing screen time regulations.
8) How do teachers know what students are actually doing on their devices, ensuring their online time is purposeful?
Just like all learning experiences, kids will be kids, and sometimes get distracted or off task. Managing these impulses and behaviours are a part of the learning process. The digital tools teachers choose to use within the classroom programme are all clearly considered. Where possible, the programmes have tracking capabilities including time spent, learning accessed, and outcomes achieved. Teachers also use our safety elements (see Question 9) to ensure that students remain on-task.
9) What measures are in place to ensure students are kept safe online?
We will continue to use the 4 layers of internet filtering and security that have been in place since CQS first began. Firstly we have monitoring software in place that allows the teacher to see every student's screen whilst they are working in class, and access all documents and mail. In addition, we have alerting functionality that generates an alarm if / when a student gets up to mischief or accidentally has potentially inappropriate content on their screen. The Ministry of Education also provides filtering software for enhanced net-safety, so that malicious or inappropriate content is filtered out, this further reduces the likelihood of something inappropriate popping up. Teachers also regularly rove around to see what is happening within the classroom, and students are very good at letting teachers know if there is anything to be aware of. All of these measures together provide surety that our students online experience at school is as safe as possible.
Please be aware that the safety measures provided at school are not measures that automatically move through into individual households. You will need to look at the security settings within your own home network and monitor your child’s online usage outside of school hours.
Netsafe provides some good advice and strategies for safeguarding children online at home.
10) Will there be any education for parents who are not familiar with the digital world?
Yes. We are planning to run some parent education evenings to help families become more familiar with the technology that their children are using and ideas for digital safety at home. We are keen to hear what sort of support you are interested in to best tailor our evenings.
11) Have you considered the potential inequality in the classroom?
We believe that BYOD helps to alleviate inequality. With chromebooks, all students have access to the same resources. We use free online applications, or applications where the school pays for the subscription. This also means that students can continue their learning at home should they choose to, something not possible if students do not have access to a suitable device within the home. In terms of financial pressures, if students are unable to have their own Chromebook at the start of the year, the school still has its current stock which students can access until they are able to get their own. We are currently investigating finance options through various local companies, and some families may be able to access support funding through government agencies such as WINZ. Other financial implications were discussed in the newsletter last term.
12) What if our family chooses to live device free at home?
There is a balance here to navigate. We respect that all families make individual choices which suit their own beliefs and philosophies, however using technology is part of our curriculum and therefore is compulsory at school. Teachers will not be expecting students to do online learning at home, but many students may choose to continue some of their learning at home. All students will still need to have their own device for learning at school which they will be responsible for. There are also benefits to having this flexibility such as unforeseen circumstances such as we had this year with lockdowns. Also, if your child is unable to attend school due to illness but still feels up to doing some learning, there are opportunities for them to link into the class learning from home which may ease their transition back to school when they are ready.
13) If my child comes home and says they have to do homework on the Chromebook, how will I know if it is real or not? They may just be wanting screen time!
CQS has a policy of not mandating homework (the policy is available through the office if you would like to see it). Suggestions may be given, but these are optional and families need to make the choice for themselves about what is beneficial for their child and their whanau. There are lots of opportunities for students to continue on from their online learning at school. Similarly there are lots of ‘unplugged’ things they can choose to do too. If anything is deemed ‘really important’ then it would be communicated to parents via email.
14) What are the routines and expectations at school to keep the devices safe? Will they be reminded about these and reminded to bring them home?
We are currently looking into storage options. All students will have a space within the classroom where they can put their chromebook when it is not being used. This will be lockable for times when the class may be off site at swimming, tech etc. General behaviour guidelines will be set with the students at the beginning of the year, following basic common sense. Breaches will be dealt with within our current behaviour policy and teachers also retain the right to stop students using devices for a time if they are not meeting the expectations.
Teachers will issue reminders and a process will be in place to help remember to take home devices, but this ultimately remains the responsibility of the students.
15) Who is responsible for covering damaged devices when another child damages a device?
Students are responsible for the safety of their own device at school. As our students do work together on projects, their devices may at times be used by another student, but this would always be alongside the device owner. As mentioned in Q14, there are safe places to put devices when they are not in use and behaviour expectations around usage.
There are several options available for insurance in case the unfortunate occurs. The most common approach taken is to include the device in your regular home and contents insurance. If you do not have any contents insurance, then a number of suppliers offer device insurance as an optional extra with their purchasing or payment plans.
16) What happens if a child cannot BYOD (their device could be broken)? Will the school have spares?
Our current supply of chromebooks will continue to be used until they are unable to work. Students remain responsible for ensuring that all working devices come to school. The spare supply is for emergencies, rather than forgetfulness.