Frequently Asked Questions:
We have attempted to collate a list of frequently asked questions parents might have – we will continue to add to this list as we are prompted with questions.
What are our core principles in proposing this scheme?
- The goal is richer learning, not flashy technology
- Independent learners are more successful learners. The school is keen to encourage learner independence
- The scheme must be sustainable
- The scheme must be equitable (that is, available to all)
- The scheme must be learner-focused – for the learning, for the student
- The scheme must close the digital divide at Chesterton. The scheme must support home access to the 75% of students who currently do not have their own device
- The scheme must put education software into the 85% of homes where there is currently none
- The scheme is one of a number in the school’s strategy to deliver outstanding learning and to provide the best education possible to our students
- To the student, it must feel like their device
Will my Child get better grades?
Clearly, better learners achieve better outcomes, but how much of this will be due to the mobile device will be hard to measure! What we do know however is that much as a One-to-One teacher or a Gifted and Talented teacher may support the brightest and weakest students (this will of course continue), a mobile device will facilitate improved learning outcomes for all students. For a student, being able to gather, organize and retain their thoughts in many ways in addition to writing in a exercise book will, we have no doubt, improve their experience at school and their outcomes from it. In other words, we believe it will be a significant factor in improving attainment for every student.
What evidence do we have?
Many schools already run these schemes, and we have visited a number of them. We were very impressed by what we saw! Another 150 secondary schools are running a similar scheme from September 2012, and they are all as enthused and excited as us about the possibilities 1:1 can bring to students’ experience and attainment.
There is an extensive body of literature from the UK and around the world which we have been reading and digesting for a number of years. We have collected some of the most useful sources on our web page (Research link above). Schools are changing, moving from classrooms where the teacher stands at the front and the students work in uniform rows, to providing students with access to modern, inviting, engaging and exciting learning spaces. Independence in a student’s approach to topic material is one area highlighted time and time again, and one where it is also proven that 1:1 devices are the most effective and cost effective method of encouraging this. It is important to remember that while this is one important area, we are also looking into many other strategies to improve learning for our students.
Would it not be better to spend money on teachers?
We will not finance the project by reducing numbers of teachers or support staff, or by scaling back future staffing developments. If we were to spend the capital needed for this project on additional teachers, it would buy limited additional staffing and would impact a limited number of students.
Although our school’s budget is often tight and is lower than many other Local Authorities, it is of course not small. We already invest heavily in a variety of strategies to improve teaching and learning, e.g. good teachers, fit-for-purpose learning spaces and high quality learning resources. The 1:1 tablets scheme is another strategy to improve learning.
Will mobile tablet devices help to maintain Chesterton as a successful school in the future?
Yes. 1:1 devices, independent learners and effective learning environments are key elements of the school’s improvement plans. In the future, learning will not be limited to school walls and knowledge and will not solely come from the teacher or the text book.
We are in that future now!
Why a tablet device?
We have conducted a great deal of research in to which device is the best device to improve independence in learning.
We are convinced that tablets are the most successful discrete learning tools and can best reduce the barriers to anytime learning at home and at school.
Whereas IT rooms, netbooks and laptops tend to produce consumer learners, tablets produce fluent, innovative, creative, integrated learners.
A 1:1 device is a tool, not a methodology. It will improve and support the lesson, not drive change. A 1:1 device should be like a desk lamp, unobtrusive but, when required by the individual, is effective, robust, reliable and enables progress.
Which tablet device will you use?
We researched the best tablet device for learning. We evaluated a variety of devices including Android. We found that there is not currently a viable Microsoft operated tablet but we will continue to evaluate as this fast moving sector evolves.
We found that the iPad is currently the best tablet to create independent, successful learners for the following reasons. An iPad:
- Is an ‘in lesson‘ tablet for quick consumption and organization of ideas (a picture of the board, voice recording or mind map).
- Is a device with no boot up time, turn on and use
- Has enough battery life for a full school day
- Is learner central. You chose an App for a task, not directed to software. This encourage independence and voice
- Is recognised within industry as currently the best tablet (we are not looking for a computer or laptop)
- Has an intuitive and accessible operating system and interface
- Has a vast library of free educational resources, not limited to ‘Office’ packages
- Includes many Apps which are skills based, not topic based and therefore producing better learners
- Has desirability, excitement in learning, enthusiasm, engagement in learning, kudos
- Is the only task central device, ‘does what it says on the tin’ no distractions, connections, saving, locating, setting up
- Does not digitise existing problems, instead leads to innovation
- Is available now
- Has user development and active learning community locally and nationally
Aren’t there much cheaper tablets available?
iPads do command a premium, although the price for schools has recently fallen to become far more competitive. There are still cheaper alternative devices available but those devices do not meet the criteria we believe of a successful learning device for the classroom. If we were to run a scheme tomorrow the only device to meet our criteria is the iPad, but we will review this annually – the tablet market is developing fast.
Will I have to buy Apps?
We will ask students to create iTunes accounts using their school email and this will enable the school to manage the roll out of software. Most Apps are free, and we would not oblige students to purchase paid apps. On occasions though, we may suggest an App as a cheap alternative to, for example, buying a book.
Did you know that:
- APPS are the software titles on an iPad.
- There are over 500,000 APPS and thousands are education-based.
- Many APPS are free.
There are APPS for nearly any application you can think of, including:
- Video recording / editing
- Sound recording / editing
- Photo taking / editing
- Providing free books
- Annotating work
- Mind mapping
- Creating documents / presentations
- Turn the iPad into a musical instrument
- Subject specific APPS
- Skills APPS – literacy / numeracy / speaking
Can my child bring in their own iPad?
If you already own an iPad, we are happy for this to be used, subject to the school’s rules and “ICT Acceptable Use Policy”.
Can my child bring in a mobile device other than iPad?
We studied the concept of students bringing their own choice of device and we concluded that in a learning environment such as ours there is a compelling case for a single device where all teachers and students are using the same technology with the same capabilities.
We felt that it would be easier for teachers to plan lessons for a single device environment and that those lessons could be more enriching. We will encourage teachers to develop resource that will work on a variety of devices, so that we have flexibility to change device at any point, but a key part of our eLearning strategy will be encouraging staff to devise more creative and engaging content — having a class where a number of students cannot access that content because they have a different device is in conflict with our core principles of 1:1 device use.
A great deal of the research we have undertaken points to the fact that equity of access — closing the digital divide — is a key consideration in the school environment. Allowing students to bring their own device of another kind would mean that some students might be disadvantaged by bringing in a second-rate device. For example, if a student brought in a device such as a smart phone they would be able to take advantage of certain benefits of that device — such as browsing the internet or taking photos of the whiteboard — but they would not be able to do other things such as make a mind map of their ideas using interactive content.
In essence, we found that the most effective learning would only happen where the technology compliments the lesson and is not a barrier to the learning. The only way we can ensure this is to have a single device across the school.
What is the Chesterton IT Vision?
Our vision is simply this: equipping teachers and students with the right tool for the right job.
We see an interconnected, collaborative, open and transparent network where information is at your finger tips and the technology used to access it is invisible. We will store data in an accessible, but secure, environment which will be accessible anytime, from anywhere.
We see ours as a school where the student will be connected 24/7, where they can access creative suites for media, PC banks for typing essays and a personal device to progress learning in every classroom and then extend their learning beyond the school walls and the school day.
What we are not trying to do is to turn every classroom into a PC suite!
What about writing skills, exams and healthy lifestyles?
Tablet devices are not laptops. Currently an outcome in English over several weeks may be to produce an extended piece of writing with the title, ‘Describe and evaluate the main characteristics of Lenny in Of Mice and Men?’ This outcome would remain, although currently this may be achieved by all 30 students reading chapters of the book and making notes in their exercise books. With a tablet students can highlight eBooks, create mind maps, create video and audio notes, produce and animation of ‘missing scenes’, share work collaboratively, make a note at home…the possibilities are infinite…..each student learning how they learn best. At the end of the unit, they are writing their essay secure in the knowledge that they understand, that they have learned, that they have progressed.
Learning and practising the skill of writing is, and always will be a core value to Chesterton. We know, and evidence shows us, that tablets can help to produce better, more effective writing.
We will also work with students, as we currently do, on different ways of learning and on how to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
Are they Eco Friendly?
An iPad has a full set of green credentials and is a fully recyclable device. We know that the scheme will reduce printing and paper costs hugely and also reduce our energy consumption substantially, over time, by replacing some of our more cumbersome older equipment. They will make a significant impact in our attempts to reduce our carbon footprint.
Is it not just or toy or gimmick?
Hopefully in what you have read and heard thus far, you will agree that there are proven educational benefits from 1:1 devices and in particular iPads currently, and that the work we have done over the last year and the upcoming year will provide a platform for a successful, equitable and sustainable scheme. Key to the device is the ability to benefit from the huge advantage a digital lifestyle can bring, and for students to engage with the device as their own device. We encourage our students to work hard, but also to play hard and a lead a rich, full life.
What about Safeguarding, safety and security?
At Chesterton, we have a proven robust eSafety strategy which relies equally on education as well as technological solutions. We have a duty to safeguard the well-being of our students and we will do this using a mixture of Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs), filtering, and monitoring. We are, though, at the forefront of harnessing technology to improve teaching and learning and are looking at embracing the opportunities rather than shunning them — and this includes the use of social networking.
Misuse will of course be dealt with through our behaviour policy, although we would avoid restricting use of the device as a punishment.
There are many schools that currently operate this type of scheme, and there are, up to now, no issues we know of where students have been targeted because of the value of the contents of their school bags. It is not uncommon for the majority of our students to make their way to school with iPods and Blackberries. The devices contain security features which are designed to enable you to track them, or remotely wipe data if stolen or lost.
We will provide students with health and safety advice alongside advice on how to live an active and healthy lifestyle. Today’s screens do not have the same impact on eyesight as older style screens.
What training will you provide?
We will provide a comprehensive program of evening and weekend training sessions as well as training our teachers on embedding best practice into lessons.
There will also be comprehensive IT support in school to make sure each student has a working device and is comfortable using it. We will run daily ‘Genius Bars’ giving students quality support and guidance.
What about Parents?
We will encourage all parents use the device at home. Enabling some parents to shop online and thus freeing up a Saturday or weekday may have a positive impact on their Childs learning and lifestyle.
By bringing the device home, we aim to provide another means of parents and their children talking about school and what has been happening in lessons as well as providing a modern mechanism for communication between school and home.