The Bring Your Own Tablet (BYOT) Initiative was started at Dainfern College at the beginning of 2013.
We embarked on this initiative as we strongly believe that integrating technology across the curriculum, using a personal device such as a tablet, adds educational value by
- Enhancing the learning process;
- Encouraging collaborative learning;
- Engaging pupils in the learning process by using tools with which they are comfortable;
- Aiming to develop 21st Century pupils who feature as educated, robust digital citizens; and
- Enabling pupils to learn independently, think critically, collaborate with peers and communicate their ideas using a variety of media oriented methods.
A tablet can also be used for the daily organisation of our pupils’ lives with the use of digital calendars and the different apps that are available for timetable and assignment management. E-textbooks are becoming more common and there will be further development in the future. Pupils are still expected, however, to develop traditional classroom skills, such as reading, writing and exam readiness, alongside the more modern school skills or content creation, analysis of information and collaborative learning.
We made the decision to introduce a Bring Your Own Tablet initiative rather than a Bring Your Own Device as the tablet has many benefits over a laptop, including extended battery life, robustness, small size, appropriate apps and portability. We do recommend the purchase of an iPad as this device is familiar to our pupils, staff and IT support staff as we have worked with iPads for 18 months using mobile labs. We also receive excellent educational support and free training from Apple. However, our students are equally successful with other devices and the apps that are recommended are all cross-platform or have cross-platform equivalents.
In 2013, the tablet initiative was rolled out in the Senior Preparatory to Grades 6 and 7 and these students were expected to have their own tablet to be used at school every day. From January 2014 our Senior Preparatory pupils in Grade 7 are required to have their own tablet to be used every day at school. Our Grade 6 pupils are expected to have their tablet to be used every day at school from Term 2, 2014. The tablets are to be maintained by the pupil and we have placed support and training structures in place to assist pupils and staff.
In order to give Grade 6 pupils time to settle in to a slightly varied academic routine, we have introduced a ‘Tablet Licence’ training program to ensure a smooth transition as the pupils commence their year in 2014. Over the course of the first term of 2014 pupils will complete training in all the aspects of using a tablet at school. This training will be done using the school’s iPads and will cover all aspects of using a tablet at school as well as the idea of being a good digital citizen. Upon completion of the program, pupils will be in a far better position to handle the responsibility of these devices when it becomes compulsory to bring your own tablet to school at the beginning of Term 2.
Opportunities will also be made available to parents where we will share some of the advice and tips we have regarding the use and misuse of a tablet, both at school and at home.
We have a core list of apps that we need our pupils to have loaded on their device. Our intention is to keep the number of paid apps to a minimum as our approach is to use apps for content creation by our students and not use apps for apps’ sake. Teachers may also request that subject-specific apps be loaded during the year. This is a list of apps we require be loaded on the device in the Senior Preparatory are:
- Either Quick Office which has a Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Presentation application all in one - R159,99 OR Spreadsheet (Numbers), Word Processor (Pages) and Presentation (Keynote) - R79,00 each. Or similar.
- Mathletics Student - Free
- Maramedia - only for Grade 7 Afrikaans - Free app; book purchases in the app have to be paid for
- Popplet - Please consider buying the full version
- Edmodo - Free
- Pocket, Dropbox and Box - Free
- Dictionary - dictionary.com or Merriam-Webster or other - Free
- Any calculator - Free
- Explain Everything - R29,99 or Educreations or ShowMe - Free
- Book Creator - R39,99
- Comic Book - R15,99
- Tag Cloud - R7,99
- Audiomemo / voice recorder - Many free ones available
- Google translate - Free
- Adobe Reader - Free
We are very aware that there are issues attached to this initiative:
Security: We insist that the pupils either have their tablets securely with them at all times or locked in their locker. A strong lock will need to be supplied. Specially designed tablet lockers have been also supplied for pupils’ use. We recommend that the tablets are insured as part of your household insurance, that they are clearly marked and that a tracking app such as Find My iPhone is installed.
Cyber-safety: We have an Acceptable User Policy in place and continually educate our pupils on how to be responsible digital citizens. We also have age-appropriate web filters for all internet access including the school’s wifi. If the pupil’s device has 3G capability, we insist that 3G be switched off whilst at school so that the internet is only accessed through our content filtering system. This also prevents high 3G costs from tablet use at school.
Responsibility: Pupils are expected to be responsible for their own devices. This includes ensuring they are charged every night.
Please contact our head of ICT in the Preparatory School, Anthony Egbers, for further information.
BREAKING NEWS! ThinkAhead are offering FREE iPad workshops for parents. Please download the brochure for details about dates and times.