Below are some FAQs regarding the BYOD program.
What is BYOD, and how does the program work?
BYOD means "Bring Your Own Device." Instead of the school providing devices, or instead of mandating one particular device, we are requiring every student to bring the device of their choice (provided it meets some basic requirements). Each teacher may have students use the devices differently. Some teachers may have students do research in class, some may have them take assessments, some may have them do writing assignments, some may use it to access online resources. Some teachers may give activities that require students to use their devices constantly. Other teachers may not utilize the BYOD program as often but leave it up to the student whether or not they use their device to take notes or access an e-book. While having every student bring their own device opens a world of curriculum possibilities, we also believe in creating an environment where students have a choice to turn in homework digitally, have e-books instead of textbooks, and take notes electronically.
Does my child have to bring a device or is this optional?
Yes, every student must have their own device that they bring to school.
What are the requirements for the device?
The parameters are very wide open. Basically, the device's screen must be 7" or larger. It must have 802.11n wireless connectivity. It must be equipped for internet browsing (no e-readers). It can be a PC, Mac, Chromebook, iPad, Android tablet, or other tablet, etc. Battery must be at least 8 hours. Keyboards, extended warranties, protective cases, and insurance are recommended but not required.
Why are the parameters so open-ended?
When we say, “students can bring any device that meets some very basic parameters,” we don’t mean to be vague. We mean to be very open-ended. We envision seeing all sorts of different devices - from Chromebooks to PCs to tablets to MacBooks. We want families to be able to make a decision that best meets their needs. Some families will want to purchase a less expensive device. Some may want to purchase a brand that syncs with other devices in the home. Some families may want to purchase a device that the student will use for the long term. As long as it meets the specifications outlined in the program, students are welcome to bring it.
Which device should I buy?
That really depends on a number of factors - price, device type, operating system, screen size, etc. Think of purchasing a device like purchasing a car. All of the devices will get you to the same place, but just like purchasing a car, there are specific reasons one chooses a particular model. We recommend this article entitled "Important Factors to Consider when Choosing a BYOD Device."
Where should I go to find and purchase the device?
You're welcome to purchase the device from anywhere. If you don't know what device you want, we recommend going to a retail store like Best Buy, letting them know the requirements, and then allowing your child to play with the devices that meet the parameters. Because of the risk of theft, breakage, and viruses, we recommend purchasing extended warranties. Some retail stores may offer warranties, whereas many online shops do not. Consider shopping at stores that will match online prices as well. This way you can get the best price along with an extended warranty. You may also want to consider shopping at stores that allow you to return the device without restocking fees. This will give you a couple of weeks to test out the device and return it should you find that it doesn't meet your needs. We recommend this article entitled "BYOD: Understanding the Program and Making the Purchase."
What devices should I avoid?
From our experience, the most limiting devices are those that restrict you to certain applications. For example, Windows Surface RT, while a Windows machine, limits users to only certain apps on their app store and does not allow installation of standard exe files. A Windows Surface Pro does not have this limitation. Likewise, an Amazon Kindle Fire, while an Android device, does not allow users to access the Google Play store. Most other Android devices do not have this limitation. From what we've seen, those devices that have these restrictions to access the stores and programs for their operating systems seem to create a number of hurdles for students.
Do I have to buy a new device, or can I use one that we already have?
You do not need to purchase a new device, provided that the device you already own meets the requirements. If battery life is a concern, one option is to purchase an extra battery pack or a battery life extender instead of a brand new device.
What happens if the device breaks? Will you fix it?
No. While we may be able to troubleshoot a simple malfunction, the device is the student's responsibility. If the device breaks, you will have to coordinate repairing. We highly recommend purchasing extended warranties, virus protection, and installing anti-theft software if available.
What happens if the battery dies during the school day? Will they be able to charge their device?
Students must come to school with their device fully charged. Battery life depends on many factors, particularly how much the device is being used and for what purpose. While allowing students to charge their devices is ultimately up to the teacher, we encourage students to use their devices judiciously. Playing games, watching movies, and unnecessary multi-tasking will run down the battery life signifcantly.
Will there be loaner devices if a child forgets their device or needs to have it repaired?
Should something happen, or if a student forgets their device, loaner Chromebooks will be available for rental from the LMC for a fee of $10/day. The Chromebooks must be returned to the LMC at the end of each day in order to avoid disciplinary action, hefty fines, and loss of future rental privilege.
Will my child have internet access?
Yes, we have a dedicated network for student wifi access, and students are given their access information at the beginning of the year. Each username/password is unique to the student, and they should remember their credentials in case they change their devices at some point of the year.
Will my child have email access?
Yes, each student will have a Spalding branded Google apps (Gmail) account. They can access it by going to www.gmail.com and logging in with their student Google apps/Haiku account information.
What programs should we have installed on the device?
Because of the wide ranges of devices, the BYOD focuses on leveraging web-based technologies. Teachers may have requests or suggestions for students to install a various program, but for the most part, they will be mainly utilizing websites available to all devices with a browser. For those using tablets that restrict flash, we recommend installing the paid version of the Puffin app, which is available for Android and Apple mobile devices.
Do we get Microsoft Office?
Yes, Microsoft Office 365 account information is emailed to the students' Spalding email account (@spaldinghs.org) before the beginning of the year. With Office 365, students can install Microsoft Office on up to five supported devices. Please note that MS Office is not compatible with Chromebooks. The email instructions include information on how students can create an online Office account and use a web-based version of Office on any browser.
What is Google Apps?
We encourage students to take full advantage of their Google Apps accounts. Besides an email and robust calendar, students have access to 30 GB of free storage via Google Drive (www.drive.google.com). Students also have access to Google's web-based word processing programs (Google Docs, Spreadsheets, and Presentation), which are similar to Microsoft Office and can be accessed on any computer anywhere with an internet connection using the student's Google Apps login information. For students with Android tablets and iPads, there is an free dedicated app for every Google app service (Gmail, Drive, Docs, etc.) available in Google Play and on the App Store.
What are the acceptable use policies regarding the program?
The acceptable use policy is outlined in the student handbook. You can also take a look at this powerpoint which outlines some other parameters.
Are ebooks available and how do we access them?
More and more, we are transitioning to using books that offer an ebook alternative. While some books are only available in a hard copy, many of our books are available as an ebook (see list here). While we encourage students to buy books through MBS Direct because of their guaranteed buy-back program, students are welcome to purchase their books through any vendor. Some vendors may offer the books for rent, and some may require downloading an app in order to access the ebook. Before you purchase the book, please check with the vendor to ensure that the ebook can be accessed on your device. In some cases, students will access their material through an online portal instead of a downloadable ebook. For information about specific books, please contact the teacher.
Still have questions?
Please read these two articles: "BYOD: Understanding the Program and Making the Purchase" and "Important Factors to Consider when Choosing a BYOD Device." If you still have questions, feel free to contact Tim Strunk (ext. 439) or Dan Brady.