BYoD at Massey High School, An Introduction

This newsletter is the first of a series of newsletters devoted to Massey High School’s move toward integrating Bring Your own Device (“BYoD”) for the majority of our students from 2021.

Below you will find the background and rationale for making the move – a move which has been accelerated as the result of the COVID interrupted year that we have all experienced. The move seeks to seize upon the growth exhibited by our students and staff alike, ensuring a transition through to a truly blended approach to teaching and learning.
At the same time, it recognises the very real issues that some in our community are faced with. Over the coming weeks, further information will be published which provides a number of different avenues available, and support provided, as we move to BYoD.
Please note, that the focus on BYoD will be with Years 10 through 13 – Our Year 9 students and their families will have a transitional period, with a suitable device not being required until they reach Year 10 in 2022.
Rationale
The events of 2020 have strengthened what Massey High School (“MHS”) knew as being paramount – the importance of access to digital technology for communication and learning. The first lockdown of the year highlighted the digital divide that exists, both for our students, and for our staff. This divide has two aspects, physical access to a suitable device, and effectively using that device. We are grateful to the Ministry of Education (“MOE”) for the provision of a large number of laptops – all of which are currently in the hands of students. These laptops have provided us with a means to begin to bridge the digital divide.
Perversely, the lockdowns also provided us with a unique opportunity to move forward in terms of integrating the use of devices into our teaching practice. Our staff and students made rapid gains in accessing, and effectively using devices in teaching and learning. However, at the back of our minds there must also be a preparedness for future interruptions to on-site teaching and learning.
With this in mind, we have looked forward, to see how devices can be integrated as just one tool in the learning toolbox, and how they can provide greater collaboration and more personalised delivery of the curriculum. Devices will never be a substitute for face-to-face relationships between teachers and students, rather they are a means to enrich and enhance teaching and learning.
In making this move we have looked at:
  • How do we ensure access to a device?
  • What year levels will bring a device?
  • What is a suitable device?
  • How will a device be utilised in the classroom?
All of the above will be covered in detail in a series of dedicated newsletters – with the information being uploaded to our website over the coming weeks.
What year levels will bring a device?
Our focus during the two lockdown periods in 2020 was on years 10 through 13 inclusive. The period between the two lockdowns enabled us to establish the numbers of students in these year levels who had access to a device at home, and more importantly how many had access to a device that they could bring to school.
The second lockdown saw all of the MOE provided laptops delivered to students across these year levels. As our year 13 students come to the end of this year, they are in the process of returning these laptops – which can then be made available to younger students.
Our planning takes this into account. However, we are also aware that the transition from primary to secondary school already presents a number of issues for new year 9 students and their families. These include financial considerations, as well as the adjustment to a new environment, and differences in teaching and learning. Our year 9 students come from very diverse schools, and year 9 presents the opportunity for them to become accustomed to being at secondary school.
For this reason, our move to BYoD in 2021 will not include our incoming year 9 students. Rather, it will focus on years 10 through 13.
How do we ensure access to a device?
This is probably the most pressing question for our community. A large volume of work has been conducted by the school, together with other organisations, with a view to providing our families with a range of options for device ownership and to suit differing means.
As with many secondary schools, we have partnered with a major commercial provider, Noel Leeming Group (“NLG”) – the benefit of which is access to supply of devices tailored to our specific needs (and also presenting a number of options across different price points) as well as access to preferential pricing.
Purchase through NLG will also provide the means to access after purchase support for the device.
We have also worked with organisations who can work with some members of our community to provide realistic support to enable access to a suitable device for learning. The school will also provide support for obtaining WINZ quotes.
Further newsletters will focus solely on these options – providing further information about the avenues that families can utilise for device ownership. No student will be disadvantaged by not having a device.
What is a suitable device?
We have made the decision to focus on Windows capable devices as forming the basis of what constitutes a suitable device for learning. Chromebooks, tablets, and smart phones do not constitute a suitable device for BYoD learning.
We recommend a Windows 10 device, capable of running Microsoft Office. It should be lightweight and robust enough to survive teenage life, have a battery life of 6 hours or higher, and have suitable storage (SSD being best) for applications to run smoothly.
Obviously, if your child already has a device that meets minimum requirements, they can utilise that device.
A subsequent BYoD newsletter will focus purely on the specifications recommended and have the suggested models that can be purchased through a dedicated portal provided by NLG. It will also outline insurance options, after-purchase care, and on-line safety and responsible digital citizenship.
How will a device be utilised in class?
For BYoD to provide maximum benefit for our students – the devices must be utilised effectively in class. We are aware that students will be reluctant to bring devices if they are not being used and equally aware that teachers can be reluctant to integrate BYoD should students not bring their devices. Accordingly, we must ensure real purpose – and our staff and students will need to support each other, particularly in the initial stages.
Our staff have already engaged in professional learning around effective integration of ICT into classrooms, and this professional development is continuing through the remainder of this year and into the next. The aim is for our teachers to be best placed to use the best tools available for a truly blended approach.
Moving forward
As mentioned above, there will be a series of newsletters over the coming weeks which will provide further detail on the points raised. Additionally, there will be links provided to NLG, and to third parties who can provide assistance for those families who require it.
Similarly, there will be further information provided regularly on the use of devices in teaching and learning.
All such information will be uploaded to our school website - https://www.masseyhigh.school.nz/key-information/byod-bring-your-own-device

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