St Mary’s College is in its second year of BYOD. Here we talk to Elena Grant about the direction they’ve chosen to take and the decisions they’ve made along the way.
Can you describe your BYOD programme?
2015 was our first year of BYOD. We introduced it at Year 8. This year we introduced another two year levels so it is currently running from Years 8-10.
What have been the key steps in the process?
Planning: This began in 2012. It involved lots of commitment from the Board of Trustees. We addressed our areas of need around infrastructure. Research: We looked at what other schools were doing. Used the MOE Framework to assess where we were currently at. Communication: It began with getting everyone involved including the Board, staff, parents and students.
Can you tell us about your e-learning lead team?
This is a small team who has responsibility for strategic direction in the school around digital technology. E-learning representatives for each faculty are the next level. Their role is to support the faculty leader in the practical implementation of digital technology.
What’s been the reaction from staff?
Good. I think one of the challenges for schools concerning BYOD is getting everyone on board. You have your highflyers who are very IT capable and confident; you have others that need more help. It’s about supporting them all going forward. IT won’t replace a good teacher. It’s about using digital technology as a tool and applying and embedding it to support learning in the classroom.
Why did you choose specific devices?
We didn’t come to that decision easily. There were a whole lot of factors that we considered, like the cost for parents, of course, and the functions. We wanted a device that had a touchscreen and would do more than just access the internet. We considered the weight of the device. We’re a Catholic school, parents make the choice to send their daughters here. As a consequence, we have students travelling from a wide range of places. It’s not like they’re all just walking down the road.
In our first year, we went for the Surface Pro 3 and have now upgraded to the Pro 4. We wanted to be able to give parents one other choice, so opted to also offer the Acer TravelMate in 2015, which we’ve changed this year to the Lenovo Yoga 300.
Why the change?
We have kept the Surface Pro consistent from last year to this and our intention is to continue to do this. We did change the second option this year. If you’re prescribing a device, it needs to be readily available for parents. That’s a big issue. You have to work closely with your provider, in our case Harvey Norman. We made the decision around availability and of course functionality.
You mention Harvey Norman – how have they been to deal with?
Good. Very helpful right from the start, especially when we were considering what criteria was needed in the device. We were given a range of options to consider. There’s been great input in terms of parent nights. There’s been good communication, which I think it vital.
Why did you choose Harvey Norman?
We needed a company experienced in BYOD, able to provide good service with the security of consistent availability of our prescribed device. We needed someone who would listen and would address the needs of our school. The fact that there are a number of stores also makes it more convenient for parents.
What have you seen in terms of learning outcomes with BYOD?
There’s been some fantastic collaboration occurring. Students have developed a lot of self-management around their device as well, both in terms of keeping their notes organised and structured, to practical things like coming to school with them fully charged (as we don’t allow them to charge at school).
What are your plans for the future?
To become BYOD school-wide. Our next immediate step is to focus on e-learning and embedding that even further and more effectively in the classroom. It’s a journey. Everyone wants the best outcome. It’s about working together. I think that’s really important.
Elena Grant is Deputy Principal at St Mary’s College in Ponsonby, Auckland, and was talking to INTERFACE Editor Greg Adams.
For more about Harvey Norman, schools can contact team members on 0800 222 699 (Monday to Friday during business hours) or go to harveynorman.co.nz/education/