ICT leader, Fraser Malins explains some key considerations for setting up a safe network that parents and students can access easily at Halswell School. He includes: specifications for devices students can bring to school, teaching students how to use their devices appropriately, privacy decisions, and future proofing their wireless network.
Before the earthquakes our school was actually a GAFE school, a Google Apps for Education school, and it’s one thing we noted that worked really well before the earthquakes. So, it’s one thing that we knew we were going to continue using and it worked really well with our graduate profile. So, what we started to think about, okay, so we know that devices are going to start to be more accessible for our children and we started to think about, okay our children are going to start bringing devices in. We’re absolutely fine with that. We are an any device school. You can bring them in as long as it can use Google Apps for Education. That’s wonderful. We also thought, okay so our wireless network is going to suddenly come under pressure with potentially maybe up to 150-180 students in a block using a device. So our existing wireless was working really well, but we really needed to think about future-proofing our wireless network. So at any point in time I can see how effectively our network’s running. So, if any staff notice any drop off in the performance of their wireless network I can actually analyse that straight away. When it came to BYOD our parents were concerned about their students, about how appropriately they’d be using their devices, especially they now have access to email accounts. So we’re using Hapara dashboard as a means to manage our Google Apps for Education and one of the things that we wanted to be part of our graduate profile was students having blogs to share their learning with our parent community and the whānau. So, we’ve made a conscious decision to make them private and then children have the rights then to add the readers that they want. It’s part of the digital citizenship programme that we’re running here at Halswell that we’re really conscious of displaying the message that as soon as you post something it’s out there. So, we wanted the children to sort of have that next step of, okay yes you can post something, and because they’re conscious that it’s a closed environment, and then we’re actually getting some really honest posting. So I think if we made the blogs open I don’t think we’d get the depth of thought and the openness that we get from the student comments, especially comments that they’re making on other children’s work. They know that’s within a circle of friends. As teachers we can see those comments and we’re really happy with those comments. One of the features of the Hapara dashboard that we’ve found really successful, within our group, because we’re working as a T4, four teachers in a space, so I could be working with students from any teacher group, so being able to support learning, to be able to go into their learning and actually give them advice, or give them feedback. We’ve found to be wonderful. A representative from Linewize approached our school and it’s working really well because it gives us an ability to filter the content but also gives us some good analytics of who’s using what websites. We’re able to actually push our websites out to students, we’ve found that’s actually been successful with our students. It’s given us a really good tool to talk to students about digital citizenship especially if filtering hits come up. We can have those conversations with students. We can talk about appropriate google searches and where it’s going to lead to appropriate content. As a part of our digital citizenship programme, we actually use a police education officer that comes in as well. It’s a good opportunity to involve people from our community and to talk to students about, that what they do at school is not just at school. It is actually possibly a global issue. We saw the need that when we’re going to incorporate BYOD as part of our programme that we needed to have a ratified agreement, so we did run that past, through our Board of Trustees. We ran it through the staff and then it’s an agreement that’s signed by both students and by teachers. Then as part of that, the next step would be really then, talk about digital citizenship before they really bring their device in. I tend to do that as my role within ICT. I talk to the Year 5s and then we can talk about appropriate use. We talk about that it’s your device, not someone else’s device. We talk about how we’re going to store them, how we’re going to care for them, because that’s a concern that parents have got, because it is money that they’re outlaying as well.