Bring Your Own Device

Device requirements for GAfE and 21st Century Teaching and Learning

(Click here for a printable letter)

Dear Kingswood Parents,

As we approach the end of our first year of the BYOD roll-out and the introduction of the Google Schools platform and MiEbooks for electronic textbooks, I think it is appropriate for me to give a quick overview of lessons learnt.

Firstly, there can be no denying that the learning curve was steep. While we certainly did not expect that it would be “smooth sailing” when we embarked on this process, it did prove to be quite daunting for pupils and staff alike. The one thing that stood out for me was how difficult the pupils found it to start using their devices for something other than games and socialising. We assumed that they would "just know" how to be productive. Starting in term one next year, we will definitely spend far more time training the pupils in basic productivity. This is a crucial skill which we as a school have to train our pupils in. Pupils who enter the world of work or tertiary study without this basic capability in this day and age will increasingly be perceived as being functionally illiterate.

To recap briefly:

  • GAfE: Google Apps for Education: We are a “Google School”. That means that we use Google Classroom to distribute work and Google Docs, Sheets, etc. to do work. Our email system is hosted in Gmail. This does not mean that we do not also use Microsoft Office or any other tool for productivity as required, but it does mean that pupils need to be comfortable using Google as their default platform, and arrive at school with the basics installed.

  • BYOD: In the Senior School, we run a Bring-Your-Own-Device platform. This means that pupils can bring any device of their choosing and connect it to the school wi-fi network to do their work. However, please ensure devices meet or exceed the minimum requirements under "MiEbooks" below. All pupils must also sign and abide by the College Acceptable Use Policy.

All devices must have Google Chrome installed as the default browser. Ensure that the Google productivity apps (Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Classroom) as well as Adobe PDF reader and MiEbooks are installed on your tablet. ENSURE that your child has access to any account used to install software on the device (iTunes/iCloud accounts; Google Play Store Accounts; Microsoft Store Accounts) prior to their arrival at school.  

  • MiEbooks: In Grades 8, 9 and 10 we are aiming to use electronic textbooks as far as possible. These are downloaded onto pupil devices using the MiEbooks app. It is important to note that pupils do not need access to the internet in order to use their textbooks once they have been downloaded, only requiring intermittent connectivity to download any updated assignments and additional content added by our staff. This will be expanded to Grade 11 in 2017.

The minimum requirements for the MiEbooks platform are: 

Android (Tier one devices only - like Samsung, Acer, Asus, Sony, LG)

  • Quad Core CPU at 1.2GHz processing speed or higher

  • 16GB internal storage space or higher

  • 1GB RAM or higher

  • Android version 4.4 or 5 (KitKat or Lollipop)

  • 6 hours minimum battery life

  • We highly recommend devices running Android 5+ (Lollipop or later).

OR:

Apple iPad

  • iOS 8 should be installed

  • iPad 4 and up, iPad Mini or iPad Air

  • We highly recommend iPad Mini or iPad Air due to their performance and Airdrop support

OR:

Microsoft tablet or laptop

  • Windows 8.1 or 10 with minimum of 16GB internal storage space

One of the lessons learnt over the past year is that the MiEbooks platform works very well on Android tablets and iPads, but not so well on Microsoft laptops, unless you buy the really top of the range ones with touch screen monitors. In short, for MiEbooks, the tablets are better.

Things to consider when deciding what to buy for your child:

  • For Grades 8 and 9, it is relatively simple. I recommend a large tablet (Android or iPad) with a decent cover and compatible keyboard of some kind. This takes care of all the basic requirements. 

  • Another option that some pupils have preferred is to buy a small tablet for the textbooks and basic work and complement that with either a laptop or Chromebook for more serious productivity. However, this is a matter of personal preference and budget.

  • In Grades 10 - 12 much the same applies. Remember that for 2017 Grade 11 will also start using MiEbooks but Grade 12 only in 2018.

However, pupils doing EGD might want to think carefully about also buying a decent laptop that can run the software specific to that subject (AutoCAD - a “current generation” i5 should be considered the minimum CPU spec; at least 4Gb (preferably more) RAM, and, ideally, a solid state drive and integrated graphics card; the school’s licensing for AutoCAD covers pupils for the use of this very expensive software whilst they are pupils). 

Also, pupils taking CAT as a subject will need to work on a device that can run Microsoft Office (The school’s licensing does not cover the installation of the Office suite on pupil’s devices; that should be taken into consideration when purchasing a machine for this task).
Those doing IT may also benefit from having their own Windows-based laptop; the tools required to do curriculum work are all freely available online; basic models will typically work well enough.

However, for all three  of these subjects, the computers in our labs on campus are sufficient. It is only if your child wants to work off campus that having a device of your own may become a priority.

Please feel free to contact me with any further queries you might have.

Allayne Guest (a.guest@kingswoodcollege.com)
Head :  Academic Administration


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