Botany Downs Secondary College launched a BYOD programme three years ago. However, 2015 has brought exciting new options to students after linking up with Harvey Norman to offer them a range of computing devices and ongoing technical support, writes Lee Suckling.
Botany Downs Secondary College (BDSC) has allowed students to bring their own devices for many years and philosophically believes in emulating the ‘real world’ with multiple brands of devices in its learning environment.
“Unfortunately, when you’re bringing a variety of devices into the classroom, teachers start having tech support problems,” said Deputy Principal Michael Hart. So, the College’s service provider New Era facilitated Harvey Norman to come in and pitch a managed BYOD solution, which would offer a range of different devices and brands, at different price points, as well as ongoing support.
“We’re a Windows-based school, so the most compatible system was Windows products,” explained Hart. “At the end of 2013 we also moved over from our old learning management system to become a Microsoft Office 365 Advantage school.
“Our teachers use Microsoft Office, so this multi-platform solution means kids will get access, edit and create in the same formats as teachers – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.”
Recommended devices and discounts
Before Harvey Norman recommended devices, BDSC thought it important to require every device to have a minimum 6-8 hour battery life from one charge, so students are never left with drained batteries throughout the day and are unable to complete tasks on their own device.
“We don’t have 800 plugs available all at once to charge devices,” said Hart. “In practice, some students still need to charge their devices but the expectation is placed on them and it’s their responsibility to come to school with a fully-charged device.”
Harvey Norman provided several models to meet this core need and to suit varying budgets. They include the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, ASUS Transformer T100TA, HP Pavilion x360 Convertible, and HP Stream Notebook. The company provides BDSC with “commercial pricing” rather than “retail pricing”; that is, the school is able to offer parents a significant discount (around $120 off the retail price of an HP Stream, for example), because Harvey Norman gives a per unit discount based on the roll size of the school, and how many units will likely be purchased.
Peace of mind and comfort
The arrangement means that New Era and Harvey Norman share responsibilities. The former manages the network, including having an on-site technician for internal technical issues, such as wireless connectivity and printing. Harvey Norman, on the other hand, gives external technical issues support and, when a device needs repairing, provides loan devices via its ‘Preferred Service Agreement’ with the school. If a device fails, parents are able to take it to any Harvey Norman store, seven days a week, and a loan device will be organised – with all of the pupil’s data loaded through their cloud backup – until the repair is completed. If a device fails in years two to three of its lifecycle, it will be not repaired but replaced with a new unit under the ‘Product Care Replacement’ programme.
“Parents will never need to ‘fight’ with retailers over repairs by themselves, as the managed BYOD system is set up to remove this obstacle. It’s peace of mind and comfort, should parents choose that support.”
Positive and objective
BDSC’s experience with using Harvey Norman’s managed deployment thus far has been positive.
“They’re practical in terms of arranging documentation, and they were very good in being able to promote low-cost, yet reliable and robust, devices, alongside more powerful options,” added Hart. “They also presented really well at the parents’ information evening. One of their representatives was both a tech expert and a parent, so he was able to answer all questions factually and as objectivity as possible.”
Lee Suckling writes for INTERFACE Magazine.
Botany Downs Secondary College
Botany Downs Secondary College is a state coeducational secondary school (Years 9 to 13) located in Auckland. The school opened at the beginning of the 2004 and has a roll of 1800+. It’s a Mentor School in the Worldwide Microsoft Partners in Learning programme.
Microsoft Office 365 Advantage
This programme allows every school that licenses Office for staff and faculty is eligible to get Office 365 Pro Plus for its students at no additional cost.
Harvey Norman offers a range of support and financing services for BYOD and school-managed deployments. See more on page opposite. Contact the Education Team on 0800 222 699 or byod@