The school has been considering its e-learning strategy for at least 18 months. There is an explicit goal in our school mission to be at the leading edge of technology which mirrors the experiences students will have when they leave school. The rapid growth in mobile technology and tablets has been evident in other schools, it predominates at University and, to various degrees, in the workplace. The use of hand held devices has been piloted this year in a variety of ways. They are a valuable tool to be used alongside other learning resources. This has been seen in action here and when visiting other schools which have used them for more than a year. This has given us the belief and confidence that this initiative will make a difference at The Gryphon. The introduction of BYOD is an integral part of our longer term vision to maximise the potential of technology throughout the school. More information about our vision can be found here.
Devices and Apps
We understand that amongst our students there will be a broad range of devices. We also understand that there is a cost attached to purchasing new devices and therefore we are aiming to harness the educational value of devices that students already have. We will do our best to support any Wi-Fi enabled device that students wish to bring in and we are happy to provide advice regarding best practice.
All school bought iPads will be set up with the students own apple ID. If a student brings in their own device they will also need to sign up for access to the devices app store (we can support this if necessary). Part of using the device responsibly will involve knowing how to purchase and install apps onto the device. We do have a set of core apps that we encourage students to install. These can all be found under the Apps we Use section on this website. Most of these are free or have free alternatives. We do however encourage students to familiarise themselves with their devices app store and install any other apps which they feel will be beneficial to them in the classroom environment.
We strongly recommend that students keep their device in a case at all times as this can help reduce the chance of accidental damage. Devices purchased through the school have the option of being purchased with a case.
As part of the responsibility of having a device students will be expected to bring their device ready for use- that is fully charged and with the latest software.
Students will be responsible for doing the updates to apps and software on their devices. If they are unsure about doing so then they can come to the iHub for advice. We generally recommend that students do updates in the evening or at the end of the day so that it’s ready for lessons. Students should not be doing updates during their lessons.
In practical terms the use of tablets or other devices can promote independence and an investigative approach. In a classroom there is no longer the requirement to book a separate IT room to do research, it gives the opportunity for individuals to work at different levels appropriate to their ability and a student can quickly investigate a question or uncertainty. The ability to quickly access an image, video or text can be informative and aid learning. When watching a video, there is the opportunity to stop it and replay sections individually, rather than being shown it as a group and being unable to repeat sections that the student didn’t understand. The school is also in the process of developing online resources which the students can use in lessons and for homework.
The benefit of having one’s own device, rather than access for individual lessons, includes the continuity of usage, the ability to personalise its organisation and individual accountability for its safe usage. It does mean that there are responsibilities at home in terms of internet access and safety but these are no different to using a shared home computer or device. Whilst at school students will have to log in to the schools filtered and secure wifi in order to access the internet; students and staff must also sign an internet acceptable usage policy form before they are allowed to use the schools internet enabled technology. This form also encompasses use of personal devices at school and appropriate action is taken if any of the regulations are breached.
If you have concerns about safety then we also have an eSafety page here which seeks to provide advice regarding keeping your child safe. There are also some useful guides in our document section that provide help in setting parental restrictions on the device.
There are also practical questions which we have considered in detail including the risk of bullying, theft, storage, charging etc. Evidence from other schools is that these issues are not obstacles and that they have not been major issues. Of course there will be incidents but the support system built around this can help – both for students and parents.
In order to purchase paid apps students will need to connect their app store account to a payment option such as a credit or debit card- it is completely up to you whether you want to do it. As a compromise most devices offer parental restrictions which allow you to link the device to a payment option but restrictions can be placed on installing apps. This may be useful if you are happy for your child to install appropriate apps into their device with your permission. For iPads in particular you could choose not to connect a card to the device but issue your child with an iTunes voucher. This allows students to purchase paid apps within the limit of the voucher. As a general rule free apps can still be downloaded without having to connect any payment option. We are aware that this varies between devices so we are more than happy to offer further advice if necessary.
As with any wifi enabled device brought into school students will have to log into our wireless network. We use software called Lightspeed to monitor and restrict content on devices. This ensures that students do not have ‘free-reign’ of the internet just because it’s their personal device. However when the device goes home it is no longer monitored by the school. When connected to your home wireless network your own filtering restrictions will apply. Again we can provide guidance on doing this. Your internet provider will also be able to offer you guidance on setting up restrictions at home.
When using app stores generally all sales are final. It is unlikely that you will be able to obtain a refund for apps that are purchased. Therefore it is essential that you discuss this with your child. However on most devices parental restrictions can be set to avoid this happening. Please feel free to contact us and we can advise you on how to do this. There is also a guide in our documents area.
Devices brought in from home will have to be covered under your own insurance policy. Ultimately it will be the students responsibility to keep their device safe and on them when possible in school. We realize that there will be times such as PE where this may not be possible and we will ensure that alternatives are provided during these times.
Teaching and Learning
Like with any form of technology there is a chance that the device will break. In order to recover any work that is on the device we recommend that students back up their work to their school work space using an app called Foldr or any other file management app that connects via WebDav. We back this up every two hours. If using an iPad students can also back up using their iCloud storage which will enable students to restore their device back to a previous state via iTunes. There is a guide to using Foldr in the document section of our iGryphon site.
Ultimately it will be up to the teacher to decide what activities are permitted in the classroom. Generally students will not be allowed to play games or listen to music but this will be at the individual teacher’s discretion. The schools behaviour policy will apply in exactly the same way as it always has been so if a student is repeatedly off task or disrupting the learning of others then a suitable punishment will be decided. The teacher will be able to confiscate the device if they feel this is necessary.
There is no short answer to this as teachers use the device in many interesting and innovative ways. The apps that are currently on the device will give some idea of the basics such as quizzing and collaborative learning but we recommend that you speak to your child’s teacher to gain a full understanding of how the device is being used in that particular classroom. We will also be updating the news section of this site with snapshots of activities being carried out in the classroom.
Last year we trained 16 student digital leaders who will assist us in training students to use their devices. This year we are currently training another 40 keen students in a range of different year groups. They are identifiable by their red ‘ICT Champ’ badge which they have all been issued. Teachers have also received specific app training as part of a CPD program in preparation for BYOD. Teachers will guide students in using specific apps in the classroom as and when they are needed and the student digital leaders will also be on hand to provide further help where necessary. We want students to be as confident as possible at using their devices and we provide online guides and tutorials however if students want more help or advice then we are more than happy to provide this at the iHub.
We are currently loaning iPads to students on free school meals. These are owned by the school but are used by the student on an individual basis for the duration of their school career. If you have any specific questions regarding your child please contact Jim Gower or send a message to Tech Support.
In terms of technical support students will be encouraged to visit the iHub if they have any problems or queries regarding their device. We can support students with setting up their device, linking their school email account, changing security settings, saving work back to their workspace etc. Student digital leaders are split amongst tutor groups and are identifiable through their ICT Champ badges. They will be able to help with problems in the classroom in the first instance. We intend to use this site to provide guidance and advice for parents but please feel free to contact us if you have anything which is not covered here.
We are fully aware that devices are a significant financial investment and we recognise that this could potentially create a barrier for some families. BYOD intends to make use of technology that students are already using. There is no need therefore to purchase new or additional devices if you have one already however if you do wish to purchase ones there are several low cost options- we recommend the Tesco Hudl.
Although we highly recommend that all students bring a device into school we cannot and will not make it a requirement that you have to have a tablet to attend The Gryphon. We are the community school for this area and fully aware that we are a state-funded provider.
Parent support will be available through the iGryphon area of the website and through regular ‘parent forums’ which will take place throughout the year. Any concerns should be directed to email@example.com