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Good Practice - Case Study
School No: 442
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) at Sandringham School
Since the emergence of handheld computing devices, and in particular the more recent popularity of tablets, educators have often considered the potential of students using their own devices in school, for learning purposes. A large percentage of students already own some sort of smart device, often very powerful and functional with access to the internet, a camera and a wide range of apps. Therefore, rather than the school buying devices for every student, often beyond financial reach, allowing the students to use their own device could bring many potential benefits.
But there are probably an equal amount of challenges, which is why ‘Bring Your Own Device,’ or BYOD as it is known, still cannot be described as widespread across Hertfordshire and beyond.
Sandringham School in St. Albans is an academy with 1300 students on roll, with specialisms in Art, Science and Leading Edge. It is also a Gifted and Talented lead school and holds International School status. Since the 2013 – 2014 school year Sandringham has been planning for and beginning the implementation of what will eventually be a school-wide BYOD scheme.
There is a commitment in the school to exploring what a 21st Century learner looks like, and how young people can collaborate with one another and personalise their learning, extending learning beyond the classroom and the school day. Clearly technology plays a large role in this, giving learners access to online resources, collaborative platforms and a wide range of apps and other, web-based, tools. Sandringham has many years of experience in using mobile technologies in and around the classroom, having long used school-owned sets of iPads. These have been used in over 2700 lessons since their arrival in 2011.
The rationale behind implementing a BYOD scheme would be to allow for a greater degree of personalisation and independence, to motivate students and lessen a student’s dependence on the teacher.
Through a BYOD scheme the devices used would be chosen and owned by the student, the only stipulation from the school being that it needs to be a tablet device with a certain minimum specification. Therefore any learning activities utilising the devices would need to be platform agnostic and could not rely on, for example, iOS-only apps. However, there would be nothing stopping an individual student utilising a particular app for his or her own learning purposes, even it were device specific. The school also tries to utilise free apps and services as far as possible, with reference to paid apps as suggestions only, rather than essential. Teachers still have the option of borrowing the school set of 32 iPads if they had a specific iOS-only app that was essential to that lesson.
In the summer term of 2014 the BYOD trials began in Year 7, with the aim of it rolling into Year 8 at the start of the 2014 – 2015 school year, by which time it would be compulsory for those students to have access to a tablet device. Teachers were also supplied with a tablet, and due to the school’s experience with Apple devices, iPad Minis were chosen. Also from September 2014 sixth-formers have been given the option to bring a laptop computer to school (and the BYOD scheme supports the lease of these devices also). It was felt that laptops were more suited to the complexity and duration of activities in Key Stage 5.
Obviously with any BYOD scheme it is essential to make it equitable so that no student is disadvantaged in any way. Therefore at Sandringham parents are given the option of signing up to a school lease/purchase scheme. This includes a device, case and insurance, with ownership being transferred to the parent/student following a period of monthly payments (12, 24 or 36 months.) For parents buying the devices themselves, a range of insurance and accidental damage policy options have been suggested. Out of 190 students involved in the initial rollout, 35 signed up to this lease system. The school ensured that Pupil Premium students were supplied with a tablet device and other parents could also apply for financial assistance and be loaned a device. The school asked for a small financial contribution in order for parents and students to be stakeholders in the programme: research from other schools suggested that fewer devices were lost or damaged when some contribution was made. However, no student was excluded from the programme based on ability to pay. A survey during the early planning stages showed that 38% of Sandringham students already owned a device that would be suitable for the BYOD scheme. Parents buying a device for their child were advised on a suitable screen size and disk size, and other minimum requirements. Tablets chosen have included the iPad Mini, Tesco Hudl, Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy. It was suggested that students with additional literacy needs might benefit from a full-keyboard form factor, and Chromebooks were recommended for this.
There were clear concerns from some parents about the BYOD scheme, particularly around the risk of theft, loss and damage. To keep parents and carers involved in the process the school has kept a blog, hosted on their VLE, with information and sign-up for the leasing scheme, links to insurance etc. Parents’ working group meetings have also been held at regular intervals during the planning and trial stages, with presentations etc. made available to all parents through the blog.
Staff have received training, with plenty of ‘drip feeding’ ideas into teaching and learning briefings, the school blog and INSET sessions. Additionally, some students have been trained by staff as ‘digital leaders’ and can help to support other learners (and teachers) in their use of the technology.
It has also been necessary to upgrade the school’s network to cope with the increased wifi demands, and to implement a filtered ‘open’ wifi system for the BYOD devices. The ‘open’ wifi domain is segregated from the main school network and access to the internet without logging in was considered essential to minimise the time wasted in lessons with connectivity issues.
Examples of use
Sandringham already uses the RealsmartCloud service as a VLE and more. This service is based around the implementation of Google Apps for Education, giving each student access to a Google email address, Google Docs and cloud storage. The system is device agnostic and so can be accessed from most internet-connected devices. So at the core of the tablet use is Google apps. But additionally students access a wide range of online tools and apps to support their learning, for example:
All students are required to adhere to an Acceptable Use Policy, which sets out the eLearning rules and responsibilities. This agreement was discussed and finalised during the parent working group meetings.
Clearly it will be essential to measure the impact of the BYOD scheme. Sandringham is a Leading Edge school, part of a network of schools committed to innovation and sharing good practice. Through this the school has obtained a bursary to run an action research project to assess the impact and effectiveness of this scheme.