Will students need fewer books as resources will be available online?
Many resources are currently available online and students will have access to many more sources using the laptops. However, this will take time to evolve. We will look for every opportunity to reduce student bag weight by replacing bulky textbooks with electronic versions.
How can you ensure that written skills are not neglected?
Writing by hand is required for external examinations and written skills will continue to be developed. A pen and paper will be used when appropriate as will the laptop. The laptop is not a replacement pen and should not be used as a basic word processor. However, laptops are a powerful tool for improving essay writing as text manipulation helps drafting and redrafting skills.
How can we ensure that laptops are not a distraction to students?
Good classroom management with engaging tasks will minimise disruptions. Teachers will receive training in specific strategies for managing laptops in the classroom. Laptops are a learning tool and not a distraction.
Will the school invest in resources needed for student laptops?
STC is and has been investing hugely in technology. For example, upgrading the network and wireless network, technicians, power, software, servers, back up and professional development.
Is there an information literacy programme planned?
We believe this is an essential 21st century skill. We will ensure that information literacy is comprehensively developed across the entire curriculum to support meaningful use of electronic resources by students within the 1 to 1 programme.
Will students be expected to take the laptop home every day to complete homework?
This is a policy we will discuss with the parent group, however, in other schools students are actively encouraged to use their laptops at home in order to complete homework and develop their skills. They gain deeper knowledge of their laptop when it is used as a learning tool and also through exploration.
How will laptops improve educational attainment?
The use of laptops has been proven in many schools to raise educational attainment. However, our aim is not so much to improve attainment (ie grades achieved in external examinations) but to use technology to enhance and transform learning and help students to develop literacy in accessing, evaluating, creating and communicating information, to engage them in deep learning and collaboration, and give them access to authentic audiences. In addition, to enable them to be able to employ digital tools both effectively and ethically.
How long will it take to develop the digital curriculum across all subjects?
All teachers are exploring the use of our VLE in their subjects, we have a specialist teacher focused on leading and supporting effective use of technology and the school has identified learning technologies as one of its key strategic goals. The digital curriculum will develop continuously and will evolve as new technology and software becomes available. 1 to 1 will provide an impetus for the development as it allows usage not previously practical.
Will students be prepared to do written exams if they are using laptops in school?
Yes. Most traditional GCSE subjects are examined through the medium of written exams, although many GCSE subjects include technology based components and we expect this to increase in the future. The IB are currently trialling e-coursework and e-marking, and plan to move to e-assessment within 6 years. Regardless, written skills will continue to be developed. A pen and paper will be used when appropriate as will a laptop. The laptop is not a replacement pen.
How will teachers know how to use the laptops effectively with students?
Professional development focused on fully and sensitively introducing learning technologies has been a key provision for teachers at the school in recent years. This takes many forms including staff frequenting external workshops led by expert practitioners, as well as participating in the sharing of best practice, via the existing curriculum groups, within the wider ESF teaching community. The school also ring-fences time for learning technology focused professional development regularly and offers a wide range of in-school workshops. However, we believe a confident and well-prepared teaching staff are essential to the success of a 1to 1 programme and so in addition we have introduced a number of new initiatives. We have appointed a Learning Technologies Facilitator whose sole focus is to help staff appropriately integrate learning technologies into their teaching. We have created a Pioneers Group to develop and share useful innovations amongst the staff body. Finally, the school-wide adoption of SMART (see below) is not only revolutionising student learning, but has dramatically increased the sharing of best practice amongst the staff.
What is SMART and how does it fit in to a 1 to 1 programme?
SMART is the school’s name for our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), based on the Moodle platform. VLEs have been widely adopted at all levels of education because of their ability to transform learning and teaching and they are an indispensible piece of a 1 to 1 programme. Fully leveraged VLEs make the dream of a truly constructivist pedagogy a reality, meaning the physical classroom becomes just one small part of a much wider, and therefore richer, learning experience. SMART has already been widely adopted across the school as an invaluable teaching tool, in fact, it is the most heavily accessed website by school users, and this before the implementation of a 1 to 1 programme has fully enabled its potential.
How will teachers keep up to date with changes in technology?
Sha Tin College aims to develop life-long learners and we believe this is as important for staff as it is for students. Consequently, professional development in learning technologies is ongoing. As described above, this takes a number of forms, including both internal and external training, the sharing of good practice by peer observation, team teaching and coaching. All of this helps teachers maintain current knowledge, but the pace of change is rapid and so we have appointed a Pioneers Group and Learning Technologies Facilitator specifically to aid the spread of new pedagogies. Much of the above is further facilitated by SMART.
Where can laptops be kept securely at school?
will be kept in lockers when not being used at school, for example, at
lunchtime. This year we will look carefully at lockers to ensure they
are secure when used correctly. In addition, we have recently invested
in a state of the art CCTV system and will be adding more cameras over
the next year.
Is it too much responsibility for a child to look after a laptop?
from the other ESF schools strongly suggests that students as young as
year 7 are very responsible. The number of misplaced laptops is very
low. With support from parents and school, students develop their level
of responsibility. Many students currently own expensive mobile phones
and computer equipment.
How durable will the laptops be?
laptops are tested to stand the test of time and regular usage. Some
laptops are designed for durability at a higher cost. The life of any
laptop is approximately 3 years of regular usage not to mention the
technological advances that will occur in that timeframe.
Will the wireless be able to support so many laptops in school?
This year STC invested hugely in an upgrade to our network backbone and our wireless network. We have installed Cisco equipment throughout and can support wireless access by all users throughout the school.
How will laptops be maintained?
STC will run an ICT helpdesk where our technicians are available to help students with problems. We will expand our ICT team to provide this support. We plan to include some form of extended warranty cover in any purchase agreement.
What happens if a couple of laptops in the class are not working?
We will develop a policy on this with the parent group. Some ESF schools leave students and teachers to cope if repairs will be within a few days, other schools have loan units available so students can return to class immediately.
What happens if the battery does not last for all lessons or is not charged?
A high capacity (long lasting) battery will be one of the key considerations when selecting a machine. Other ESF schools aim for most students to last the day on batteries. Classrooms will be fitted with extra power plugs to enable low batteries to be recharged. In addition, students will learn to effectively manage power (eg by using standby). A sensible expectation would be that students start each day with a fully charged battery.
Why does the school use one model for Year 7-9 students?
We believe this approach will provide the best value and outcomes for every dollar invested by parents.
We’ve thought about this very carefully. On the surface, this approach seems similar to text books, exercise books, and calculators, but the reasons for following a single model strategy are many.
Teachers can plan to use software and services in the knowledge that they will work. When students require help, Teachers are confident, they will have prepared in similar software and can give quick help so students can carry on with the learning. When you are managing 22 students on a 15 minute task, you don’t have time to problem-solve unfamiliar software.
When students use a common platform and model, they can assist each other outside of class. They find the most efficient practices and share tips and advice.
All students have a similar entitlement – there is no laptop envy or pressure on parents to buy the most expensive new model.
Teachers can plan based on known abilities, and provide advice, links and instructions, knowing how something will appear on screen.
To properly support students so they can get on with their learning, we need to provide onsite support. We can do this properly for a known machine.
Our technical support team can maintain a software “image”. When student machines become unstable (usually due to added software and experimenting), we can reset the computer to a guaranteed stable state. Upgrades can be managed, we can ensure the wireless chipset works well with our network, we can provide a secure network login so students can access network storage (backup), printing, and can be made accountable for their use of the network and internet.
We have a duty of care to be able to trace internet traffic and sites visited if necessary.
Our technical support team can carry spare parts and execute repairs, meaning students have a minimum amount of downtime. We would choose a model that has “Accidental damage cover” – meaning that if an accident happens eg a drop or liquid spill, the computer can be repaired at no cost. If it is necessary to send a computer to the supplier, we can organize it, and provide a spare that is identical. Students can get help at break time – rather than wait to visit the shop or be without a laptop for up to a week.
We can use bulk purchase power to reduce the cost of both hardware and software for parents.
Our research and observations across many schools reinforce the value of specifying a single model at KS3. I spent time in a school with a “bring your own” philosophy and did not find a single class where all students had a functioning laptop (many were out for repairs and had been for days), I saw teachers unable to help students since they were unfamiliar with the software being used, and I saw laptops that were too small to work on comfortably and too large to be carried by year 8 students. The range of operating systems, software and configurations was bewildering. A student who needed a recharge could not borrow the power adapter of another, and many students found collaborative work challenging. Teachers were frustrated and the learning was not enhanced in the way it could have been.
How much time will be given so parents can save up for laptops?
At least a year will have passed from the first notice regarding a 1 to 1 programme. We will publish information as we work with parents to confirm dates, policies and other details.
Following purchase of new laptops, when will they need replacing?
Approximately every three years.
Can we get a discount for bulk orders through the school?
Yes. We will use our bulk purchasing power (possibly in conjunction with other ESF schools) to seek the best value possible.
What happens if parents can not fund the laptop due to financial difficulties?
In exceptional verified cases of hardship we will investigate a hardship fund.
Has a leasing option been considered so that technology does not become obsolete?
We have investigated this very carefully and discovered this option would actually be more expensive for parents. There are no savings on software and the ESF insurance company will not insure machines that we own, but are cared for by students. The burden of collecting and managing lease payments would have to be carried by the school since leasing companies will not enter into individual agreements with parents.
How many hours a day will students be using laptops?
Experience in other ESF schools indicates that on most days it will be less than 2.5 hours, however, student use will vary widely depending on the topics and tasks being attempted. .