With the ending of the federally-funded National Secondary Schools Computer Fund (NSSCF) which provided a 1:1 computer to student ratio, our school has been considering how we could maintain the 1:1 ratio.
We sought feedback from students, teachers, parents, the local Parents & Citizens Association (P&C) and the broader school community in order to develop the best program for our educational setting. To complement our planning, we accepted the opportunity to be one of trial schools in the department’s BYOx research project.
In preparation for our expanded BYOx program this year, we held information evenings for the school community and provided information on our website—looking at minimum specifications and device suitability. We are aiming for at least 100 participants in our technical solution trial. While the program was generally well received, some parents raised concerns, such as the implications for insurance, device suitability and program integration, if students changed schools.
Our original model was for students to be able to connect both a BYOx laptop and a secondary device, though our initial trial will now just involve a laptop. We are mindful that a significant number of students won’t be able to provide their own device. Therefore, we will have an equity loan pool available for these students, which is unlikely to be a 1:1 ratio.
Recently, students were given forms to return and asked to provide information about their personally-owned device and its specifications. One obstacle has been students not returning them—the paper trail is proving to be one of the most difficult elements to manage in the process.
When we receive a completed form, we evaluate the student’s device against the minimum specifications. We then provide the student with a device specification acceptance or denial letter. Recently, we lowered the minimum specifications so that more students can participate in our BYOx program. We are advising students that if their device has been denied that they can apply again at a later stage when the system has progressed.
A BYOx handbook for parents and students has recently been made available on our website. It contains advice about the suitability of devices, the responsible use policy and other relevant information. If the technical solution trial finds that devices with lower specifications can be accommodated, then students with such devices will be invited into the program and the handbook will be revised.
While waiting for the outcome of the DETE technical solution trial, we chose to implement a limited BYOx program at our school. This created momentum with our BYOx journey by responding to the immediate needs of both our local and international students and teachers.
Our plan for the BYOx technical solution trial is to have approximately 100 Year 8 students in the BYOx program in 2014 and then, in 2015, for most of Year 8 students to be BYOx. In 2015, students in Years 9 to 12 will have the option of BYOx or a school-funded device for schoolwork.
Year 7 students in 2015 will have Flying Start funding, so the school will purchase devices for them—BYOx will be an extra option for them. If the BYOx technical trial goes well this year, then we expect more students will want to bring their own devices, and we will be happy to accommodate them.