1. What is the start-up cost of the one-to-one programme for parents?
The cost of the 21st Century Teaching and Learning Programme will be built in to the normal tuition fees. Some aspects of the programme can be funded from existing budgets, some are new. The exact effect on the fees will be determined in March, when the Board normally sets fees for the following academic year.
2. Will the cost of the computer, software, training, and support be built directly into the tuition?
Yes, see above.
3. Is this the lowest cost for the educational software license?
We worked very hard to ensure that our provider gives us the best possible pricing on all aspects of the programme. The price we have negotiated is below the retail price that parents can get purchasing on their own. For the software portion the use of College site licenses reduces the cost considerably.
4. Why have you chosen Apple computers?
Apple provided us with the best overall package, in terms of both service and price. One of the key aspects of the choice for Apple was their ability to provide high level, subject specific training for our staff. Apple’s commitment to education and professional learning support for teachers is the best in the business and will provide our staff with excellent training prior to the implementation and into the future.
5. If I have more than one child at the school, do they each need their own computer?
Yes, the schedule for the programme at Dover Campus will include a phase in for Grades 6, 9 and 11 in August of 2011 and students in Grades 7, 8, 10 and 11 in August 2012. Due to the smaller numbers the East Campus will start with Grades 6 through 10 in August 2011. Each child in the programme will require their own machine at all times.
6. If my children leave the school before the three years are up, what happens to the computer?
We have determined that College ownership of the computers is significantly cheaper than parental ownership, particularly in regards to software costs. However, a sense of student ownership is also important to ensure that students value the machines and take care of them. Hence, once the three years of the machines normal life are up, the machine will become the property of the parents, less the College licensed software. If a student leaves before the three year life of the machine has completed they will be obliged to buy-out the machine at a pro-rata rate. When a student joins in Grade 11 or gets a new laptop at the start of Grade 11 or 12, they will be obliged to pay a Technology Programme Fee to cover the buy-out cost of the laptop at the end of Grade 12.
The current cost of the laptop to be used when determining the pro-rata buy-out cost, or Technology Fee is S$2,275. This price includes the computer itself, its operating system and iLife & iWork suites, three years on-site support, use of loaner units and insurance. Note that the overall cost of the programme (used to determine the fee increase) is higher, as this includes some software costs.
7. Is there any evidence that this style of learning is better than traditional teaching methods?
The benefits of a 1:1 laptop programme cover many aspects of learning. One of the key findings from research is that students are much more engaged in many of the activities involving laptop supported learning. This increased engagement, in terms of time spend involved in the topics, is seen as one of the major benefits for learning. We would encourage our community to think of laptop learning less of a “style” OF learning and more of a resource FOR learning.
8. Are other IB schools using this system?
Many. In fact, some international school laptop programmes have been in operation for more than 14 years. In Singapore:
- Singapore American School (PC)
- Canadian School in Singapore (Apple and PC)
- Overseas Family School (Apple)
- Australian International School in Singapore
- Canadian School in Hong Kong (Apple)
- Renaissance College – Hong Kong (Apple)
- Yokohama International School Japan (Apple)
- Shanghai American School – China (Apple)
- Concordia International School – China (Apple)-
- Jakarta International School – Indonesia (Apple)
These are just a few of the schools within the region who have considered and adopted a 1:1 laptop programme.
9. What have schools with laptop programmes learnt from their experiences?
We have spoken with and visited many International Schools with experience in a laptop learning environment and have learned a great deal from these conversations. There were several ‘lessons’ that schools considered to be critical. Firstly, all of the schools had developed a very well thought through usage policy. This was developed with the students and enforced with consistency. Secondly, staff training and development was seen as one of the keys to success. Many schools reported that they did not invest enough support for their staff during the initial implementation and as a result, the programme was not initially as successful as it could have been. We will be putting training in place for our staff as early as November 2010 for the August 2011 start.
10. Are the teachers at UWC SEA qualified to teach in this manner?
We are committed to support our staff with extensive training that addresses the technical aspects of laptop usage as well as the specific applications for our curriculum subjects. This will begin in November 2011 and continue in a supportive manner for years to come. We will also be highlighting the Apple use in a 1:1 format during our hiring process to reflect this aspect of our school’s expectations
11. Are the teachers at UWC SEA supporting this new initiative?
Very much so. We have 2 Apple distinguished educators already on staff and many others queuing to receive advanced training. As with any change, there are those staff members who are reserving judgement until they know more about the details. We have accounted for this within the training and believe that once our teachers can experience the benefits in learning for our students, they will move forward with enthusiasm.
12. What if my child already has a laptop?
The College will be issuing students in the relevant grades new laptops with a standard specification and software set-up. The students will be expected to use these standard machines in College. The additional software licensing costs, variation in specification, lack of onsite support and potential issues over the College exercising control over the content and use of the laptop are all reasons why students will not be able to use personally owned computers in the programme.
13. If I already have an Apple laptop, can I obtain the software myself and install it on my own?
14. What about insurance against theft or breakage through carelessness?
There is insurance bundled into the overall programme. However, it is important to note that there is an excess (deductible) and, as in most insurance policies, the insurance company holds the final decision whether to make payment in any claim. The insurance only covers use and events in Singapore. For more details on the insurance please click here.
15. Will the computers be checked for inappropriate material?
Yes, our schools current computer usage policy is very clear about the boundaries for appropriate use. We will have the capacity to check any laptop connected to our network for inappropriate material.
16. Are there any negatives to learning in this way?
Again, any educationally focussed laptop programme uses technology to enhance the current practice in the classroom. While the resources may change, the focus will always remain on learning. Some people ask if the laptops reduce normal socialization. Research has shown that students actually socialize for longer, and in a more appropriate manner, and spend more time on task, when engaged in a laptop supported learning environment.
17. Does this style of learning suit all children?
The laptop programme will be an additional resource for the classroom and will enhance the opportunities for children to learn in yet another style. As with any resource, there is a time and place that is appropriate. This highlights the importance of the teacher training as they facilitate the best learning options for their students within their course.
18. Are only the children in the rollout grades going to have access to computers next year?
All of the students on both campuses will have access to computers at all times. Some, based on the schedule above, will have access to 1:1 laptops, others will have access to class sets of laptops in laptop cards, while others will have access to desktop computer labs. Students in other grades will continue to be able to bring their own laptops in to College as they can now.
19. Will all of their work be done on computer?
The teachers, and in some cases the students, will make the decision regarding what tool is best suited for a particular job. In some classes most of the work may be done on the computer, while in other classes there may be limited laptop use at times.
20. Will all teachers be expected to use the laptops with students?
All of our staff will eventually be trained to utilise the software applicable for their teaching. The departments will determine what the appropriate use is based on what determines best learning for the students. Once decided, all teachers within that subject will be expected to adhere to the team’s teaching plans.
21. What kind of training is provided for students? For parents?
Much of the training for students will take place in the subject classrooms with some “out of the box training” occurring during scheduled times of the day. One of the exciting opportunities for parents will be the training courses that we will be offering through the school as the programme grows and matures.
22. How will the children’s social skills be affected by the constant interaction with a computer versus face to face contact?
This was one of our biggest concerns when we started considering the programme some time ago. To our relief, many of the schools we visited reported that their student’s overall social skills were enhanced by the experience. Many schools reported that students began working in collaborative groups for longer periods of time much in the same way that modern businesses collaborate during innovative group sessions. Teachers told us that off task behaviour was dramatically reduced during class sessions at many students remained engaged in activities (especially scenarios) long after the class sessions had finished as they remained behind with their groups to discuss and explore various ideas and options.
23. Will verbal presentation skills still be an important part of the school curriculum?
They have been, and we would think always will. The inclusion of a laptop will allow our students to enhance their presentations with visuals and increased access to information.
24. How will the phasing in of this programme affect the flow of the curriculum i.e. will this cause too much interruption to the school year?
We expect that the programme will not cause any interruption to the flow of the curriculum. The laptop must be seen as an additional, albeit a very powerful, resource. The learning will be enhanced by this. Especially as our staff are trained in both the technical and subject specific aspects of teaching with this technology.
25. Will school assignments and exams be digitally handed in to their teachers?
They could be. The teachers and students may decide on the best format for their work to be presented.
26. Will parents be able to access the children’s work online?
This is another possibility. Where it supports learning, we would actively seek ways to involve parents in many aspects of their child’s school experience.
27. Will children be taught proper research skills using the computer?
Yes, as they are now. This is one of the central concerns for all educator teaching in a connected learning environment. One of our primary concerns over the past years has been to develop our students as responsible digital citizens. One aspect of this is to develop the ability to critically assess on-line sources. We are currently investing a great deal of time across the curriculum to develop these skills with our students as we prepare them to learn, work, and live in world of ubiquitous access to information.
28. How do you deal with plagiarism and copyright issues?
We have several strategies to deal with this, the first being to educate the student from an early age about the expectations and issues surrounding plagiarism. We also employ several pieces of software which can assess the authenticity of piece of digital work. We use these across the school to varying degrees.
29. Will literature still be studied in hard copy?
It could be. There is nothing better than curling up with a good book. Our students may have the option of reading the book in hardcopy or digitally.
30. Will textbooks be online?
They could be. This is one of the exciting aspects of the programme as many more resources will be available for students. But we are limited to some extent by what the publishers produce.
31. How often will laptops need to be replaced?
We are working on a three year schedule of replacement. This is consistent with projected usage from schools we have consulted with and from the providers.
32. What will happen to the old computers?
As the parents will have paid for the laptops through the fees, the laptops will become the parent’s property at the end of three years. However, the College licensed software bundle will be removed first.
33. Who will hold the license for the software?
The licence for the base operating system, iLife and iWorks programs are included in the machine purchase price. Once the machine becomes the parent’s property these licences will also be theirs. For any other software on the computer supplied by the College, the licence belongs to the College and the software will be removed before the machine is handed over to parents.
34. How often will the computer’s operating system and applications be upgraded?
Minor updates, bug fixes and security patches will be applied on an ongoing basis. The school will keep all of the machines up-to-date by either on-line network updates or by re-imaging the entire machine. Major updates to software versions may also be applied periodically, but we will not necessarily move to the latest version of a piece of software when it is first released. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis, looking at the cost, training overheads, the changes required to support materials and the benefits of any new features.
35. What if my child forgets to bring his/her laptop to school or it is being repaired?
We will have ample units for loan for students and staff who are experiencing issues with their machine. Not having a computer is not an option. However, students who continually forget their computers may be subject to disciplinary measures.
36. What if my child’s laptop crashes during the school day?
We will have an on-site support and service centre on both campuses. This will be staffed by at least one Apple certified engineer and will carry the parts necessary to perform most repairs on the premises. The service centres will also be able to help with software issues and in addition there is a telephone help line available outside of normal working hours.
37. What if my child’s laptop crashes at home?
All of our machines will be covered by the Apple protection plan, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, anywhere in the world. This means that you will be able to take the laptops in to Apple service centre anywhere in the world and get support.
38. What will students do with their laptops during PE or music classes and after school activities?
For some of these classes they will be using their machines. When not in use we will provide safe storage areas for all laptops.
39. Will there be wireless Internet access throughout the entire school?
Yes, on both campuses.
40. How many batteries will the children be given with each computer?
One. The Apple unit that we have identified has a very robust power supply that should last the length of the school day. All staff and students are expected to come to school with the computer charged and ready to go. We will have limited charging areas around the campus, but charging will not be allowed in lessons.
41. Will a student be given a new battery if it fails?
They will be issued with a replacement machine until the issue is resolved. There may be a charge to replace a worn out battery.
42. Can students use their own accessories with the laptop?
Yes, to a point. We will be working with the students to modify our current acceptable use policy so that students can personalise their machines. We will obviously impose limits to the personalisation if it begins to inhibit their learning or the learning of others
43. Do students need to have access to a printer at home?
Recommended but not required.
44. Will students have to purchase a laptop bag to carry the laptop in?
It will be mandatory for the students to use a protective case with their laptops at all times. But students will be able to purchase from a range of cases / bags to suit their personal taste and needs.
45. Will viruses and spyware be a problem?
One of the reasons we chose Apple was the reduced incidence of virus infection and spyware. We will maintain a robust anti-virus strategy.
46. How can we limit students’ access to inappropriate material on the Internet? What will the school do to help prevent students from going to inappropriate sites?
Our current appropriate use policy outlines the boundaries for appropriate use in Singapore and within our school. This will constantly be reviewed and updated with the students.
47. Will students be able to email, chat, and play games on their laptops at any time?
Technically, yes. This is one of the most important aspects of the laptop programme as students are taught and learn appropriate use and multitasking. In the same way that we learned to turn our mobile phones onto silent when going into a meeting (most of us anyway) students must have the opportunities to exercise responsibility and restraint when it comes to technology. They will not all get it right and some students will try and push the boundaries. This is an opportunity for teaching and learning what is appropriate and why.
48. Will the school only allow their own instant messaging system to protect the children from the world access on the common "instant messaging"?
As explained above, the aim is produce responsible digital citizens. In some cases blocking access can encourage use. Teaching responsible use will, we believe in the long run, have a greater payoff.
49. Will the Internet be filtered to protect the children from inappropriate sites?
Yes, responsible supervision would dictate that we as an organisation must make choices about some of the material available on the internet.
50. Will students be allowed to use the computer in the cafeteria and playground?
Yes. In other schools we have seen many instances of a balance between students actively engaged in physical and social activities. Some of which was on the computer as they finished homework or shared the latest video.
51. Will the children have constant access to the Internet or will this be at specific controlled times?
Access to the internet is one of the greatest benefits of the programme. While we will regulate some of the content, the access will provide our students with an incredibly powerful resource.
52. Will students be able to use their laptops on school buses?
Yes, but there will not be wireless access. Students will also need to consider the battery life of their machines.
53. Will my child only have access to school-provided software?
No, there will be the possibility for students to install educationally relevant software that adheres to our acceptable use policy.
54. Will students be able to install software on the laptop?
Yes, the students will have install rights.
55. Can a student use their iPod or digital camera with the laptop?
Yes. We will make the conditions of the use very clear in our acceptable use policy
56. Will students be able to use the laptops for Internet access at home?
Yes. It will need to be configured to your home network for access.
57. Can a student use their laptop computer over the summer?
Yes, students will keep the laptops over holiday periods.
58. What will be the consequences of improper use of the computer?
Our acceptable use policy outlines not only the appropriate use of the machine but also the consequences for challenging those boundaries. The policy will be constantly reviewed with all students to ensure that we have clarity and understanding of the expectations and also to provide opportunities to question and amend aspects of the programme which can enhance learning for our students.
59. How will UWCSEA deal with cyber bullying in the school?
We have a very well documented policies and procedures guide for dealing with bullying in any format within our school. The cyber bullying policy is part of that overall guide and is also linked to the appropriate use policy. The response to violations of the policy are made very clear to all students throughout the school year.
60. Who can we contact if we have further questions or concerns?
We will be setting up a series of parent information session over the coming months. If you still cannot find answers to your questions you may contact email@example.com
We would like to thank the IT staff at the Canadian International School in Hong Kong for the development of many of these questions which can be found on their website. We would also like to thank them for their support throughout our journey as we developed policies and procedures which addressed these issues.