When St. Andrew’s College embraced a wireless laptop model in 2003, we converted the whole school from grades 6 to 12 in one day. It was important that costs, expertise and support would ensure an environment where teachers and students could get work done without downtime. We needed a simple model that would allow us to do our job of focusing on student learning. Teachers needed to know that every student in their classes would be ready and able to work on their laptops. So, we catipulted ourselves from a school of desktop labs to a one-to-one model of student rented machines. This allowed us to avoid computers on wheels (COWs), skip a staged implementation of laptops in a few grades, and stay away from student owned machines. All these other models tend to splinter the support effort and get in the way of our primary function of teaching and learning. We adopted a program with the same computer model for all teachers and students. This cut down on support and technical issues, and allowed us to focus on the unique needs of boys of different ages. So, grade 6 students have their laptop use phased in over several weeks, and they are finally allowed to take their laptops with them after school by mid-October. All middle school boarders are restricted 'Users' of the tablets and not 'Administrators.' All middle school boarders also hand in their laptops each evening so they can get a good night's rest without distractions.
Everyone using the same model also means that everyone can ask a question and get support from the community. A new boy can ask a returning student; a teacher can ask the class computer expert; and the middleschooler, who is keen on technology, can ask a grade 11 student to share some of what he is doing in a computer engineering and robotics class. And then the middleschooler can show off the program he wrote for his lego robot in grade 7 science, all on the same tablet, using applications that are available to everyone.
To discover more about the our overall laptop program, click here.