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Tablet Initiative

The Bring Your Own Tablet (BYOT) initiative was started at Dainfern College at the beginning of 2013.

We embarked on this initiative as we strongly believe that integrating technology across the curriculum using a personal device such as a tablet adds educational value by:

  • Enhancing the learning process;
  • Encouraging collaborative learning;
  • Engaging pupils in the learning process by using tools with which they are comfortable;
  • Enabling pupils to learn independently, think critically, collaborate with peers and communicate their ideas using a variety of media-oriented methods;and
  • Developing 21st Century pupils who are educated, robust digital citizens.

A tablet can also be used for the daily organisation of our pupils’ lives with the use of digital calendars and the different apps that are available for timetable and assignment management. E-textbooks are becoming more common and there will be further development in the future. Pupils are still expected, however, to develop traditional classroom skills, such as reading, writing and exam readiness, alongside the more modern school skills of content creation, analysis of information and collaborative learning.

We made the decision to introduce a Bring Your Own Tablet initiative rather than a Bring Your Own Device as the tablet has many benefits over a laptop, including extended battery life, robustness, small size, appropriate apps and portability. We do recommend the purchase of an iPad as this device is familiar to our pupils, staff and IT support staff. We also receive excellent educational support and free training from Apple. However, our students are equally successful with other devices and the apps that are recommended are all cross-platform or have cross-platform equivalents.

In 2013, the tablet initiative was rolled out in the Senior Preparatory to Grades 6 and 7 and, today, students from Grade 6-12 are expected to have their own tablet to be used at school every day. The tablets are to be maintained by the pupil and we have placed support and training structures in place to assist pupils and staff. At the end of Grade 9 a student may choose to use a laptop at school; however, the school does not supply plug points for all laptops and therefore these computers must have an extended battery life.

In order to give Grade 6 pupils time to settle into a slightly varied academic routine, we run a ‘Tablet Licence’ training programme to ensure a smooth transition as the pupils commence their Grade 6 year. This is commenced in the last term of Grade 5 and continues into the first term of Grade 6, with pupils completing training in all aspects of using a tablet at school. To start with, this training is done using the school’s iPads and covers all aspects of using a tablet at school, as well as the concept of being a good digital citizen. Upon completion of the programme, pupils will be in a far better position to handle the responsibility of these devices and it then becomes compulsory for them to bring their own tablet to school.

Opportunities are also made available to parents where we share some of the advice and tips we have regarding the use and misuse of a tablet, both at school and at home.

We have a core list of apps that we need our pupils to have loaded on their device. Our intention is to keep the number of paid apps to a minimum as our approach is to use apps for content creation by our pupils and not use apps for apps’ sake. Teachers may also request that subject-specific apps be loaded during the year.

The list of apps that need to be loaded on the device in the Senior Preparatory is available here.

We are very aware that there are issues attached to this initiative:

Security: We insist that the pupils either have their tablets securely with them at all times or locked in their locker. A strong lock will need to be supplied. Specially designed tablet lockers have been also supplied for pupils’ use. We recommend that the tablets are insured as part of your household insurance, that they are clearly marked and that a tracking app such as Find My iPhone is installed.

Cyber-safety: We have an Acceptable User Policy in place and continually educate our pupils on how to be responsible digital citizens. We also have age-appropriate web filters for all internet access including the school’s wifi. If the pupil’s device has 3G capability, we insist that 3G be switched off whilst at school so that the internet is only accessed through our content-filtering system. This also prevents high 3G costs from tablet use at school.

Responsibility: Pupils are expected to be responsible for their own devices. This includes ensuring they are charged every night.

Please contact our Director of ICT, Anthony Egbers, for further information.

Dainfern College

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Dainfern College, 96 Broadacres Drive, Dainfern

PO Box 3199, Dainfern, 2055

Tel: +27 (0)11 469 0635; Email: info@dainferncollege.co.za

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