Advancements in technology and the emergence of cloud computing have had a substantial impact on schools and will play a significant role in the future lives of Aspengrove students. It is our belief that technology is best positioned as a tool that students can use to enhance their learning across disciplines in order to support innovation in teaching and learning (“Priority 1” from the AGS Strategic Plan). At Aspengrove School we also encourage balance when it comes to technology use in order to support healthy bodies and healthy minds (“Priority 2” from the AGS Strategic Plan).
Below is a general outline of the student device program across the K-12 continuum and an overview of our new BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program for grades 8-12.
For students in grades 6-7, Chromebooks and other laptops are made available for specific classroom tasks and activities and students are afforded more independence when it comes to how and when they use technology to facilitate or demonstrate their learning.
A ccess to technology in grades K-5 (PYP) is introduced gradually and responsibly primarily through school-provided iPads and Chromebooks that can deliver a consistent and managed experience for students. This approach allows students to learn how to incorporate technology into their learning purposefully and responsibly. In all cases, these devices are provided by the school unless a student requires additional access to specific assistive technologies. If a K-5 student is considering bringing their own device to school it is important that there is a discussion with the homeroom teacher to ensure that technology is managed responsibly and appropriately when at school.
F or students in grades 6-7, Chromebooks and other laptops are made available for specific classroom tasks and activities. Students in these grades are afforded more independence when it comes to how and when they use technology to facilitate or demonstrate their learning. Although it is not required, students in these grades who prefer to bring in their own laptops or tablets are welcome to so as long as they are used and managed in accordance with Aspengrove School’s “Acceptable Use of Technology Agreement” (School handbook can be found here. Students who bring their own devices will be provided basic support if troubleshooting is required but for significant hardware or software repairs, they will be referred to external local service providers.
BYOD in Grades 8-12
B.Y.O.D. in Grades 8-12
In the 2018-2019 school year, Aspengrove shifted to a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model for students in grades 10-12. This decision was informed by a systematic inquiry into the needs of Aspengrove students, teachers and general best practices in secondary education. Below are some key considerations that came out of the inquiry undertaken by a collaborative IT task force and the senior leadership team.
Starting in September 2020, we will be extending this policy to all students in grade 8-12. They will be expected to bring their own devices to school daily to participate in the school’s educational programming (see recommended device list). It is important to note that there is limited access to school Chromebooks if students do not bring their own devices.
Selection of Key Considerations Regarding a BYOD Model
- Students will be provided with a “real-world” experience where they are required to manage their own technology responsibly.
- A BYOD model promotes more student-led inquiry-based learning. When students have their own technology at their fingertips they have more authority and control of their learning which is consistent with the inquiry-based education model that the IB and New BC Curriculum advocate.
- Increased access to technology does bring up concerns around screen-time and distractions. This should be mitigated by implementing this program with senior grades and through a continuing school focus on responsible technology use.
- Performance, compatibility, and troubleshooting across multiple software platforms can be tricky from a support standpoint. However, this is less of a concern now that the majority of the software used at Aspengrove School is cloud-based (e.g. G Suite & Office 365).
Choosing the “right” device
Because students will have access to the G Suite for Education (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) and MS Office 365 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) through their school accounts, students and parents have a great deal of flexibility when choosing device brands and models. For the majority of students, the main requirements will be an up-to-date operating system (Chrome, Mac, Windows) and the ability to connect to wireless internet (see examples 1, 2, and 3 below for more specific recommendations). Tablet options will also work but it is essential that students acquire a keyboard attachment for such devices. It is also important to consider any specific assistive technology needs that are required (i.e. Dragon Naturally Speaking, Inspiration, etc.).
Example 1: Chrome OS (Google)
13” Dell Chromebook w/ Intel Celeron C3855 Processor, Chrome OS, 4GB memory, 32GB (SSD) Storage
Example 2: Mac OS Laptop
13” Macbook Air (2018) w/ Intel i5 1.8GHz Processor (Dual Core), OSX Sierra, 8GB memory, and 128 GB (SSD) Storage.
Example 3: Windows 10 Laptop
Dell Inspiron 15 3000 w/ Intel Pentium Processor (Quad Core), Windows 10 Home, 8GB Memory, and 500gb – 1TB Storage.
The above examples are only meant to provide some guidance and basic specifications. The possibilities are endless and constantly changing when it comes to technology.
Support Guidelines: Students who require technical assistance will always be encouraged to do some troubleshooting on their own as this is an important skill to develop. If a student is unable to resolve the problem themselves, they are encouraged to connect with the technology coordinator to get additional support. In the event that a student’s device requires hardware repair or significant software repair (i.e. Operating System Reinstall, Virus Removal, etc.) they will be referred to a local technology repair centre.
Important Note: If students are interested in using software programs that require higher performance systems (i.e. Adobe Creative Suite, Final Cut Pro, etc.) it is recommended that you consult the specific system requirements that that those programs recommend.
Conclusion and Next Steps
The effective and responsible use of technology is an essential 21st-century skill that Aspengrove students will all need as they transition into higher-education and their professional lives. Accordingly, it is essential that students are supported at home and at school so that they can successfully navigate and operate technology and software safely and with purpose. Going forward the expansion of the BYOD program at Aspengrove into lower grades will be considered but this decision will be based on community feedback that is received regarding the new program for grades 8-12 and the specific needs of students and staff. To this end, a systematic and thorough review will be undertaken after the first phase of this new program to determine next steps.
For some additional reading on the topic of BYOD and the shared responsibility of educators and guardians check out this informative article from Wired Magazine.