Principal, Shane Buckner and teacher, Kate Friedwald explain Wairakei School's process and rationale for setting up a BYOD pilot. Having a pilot enabled them engage in discussions with parents around the use of devices, the learning that comes from the device, and address parental concerns.
Shane Buckner: In setting up a BYOD programme for our school we thought it very prudent to actually start with a pilot. One reason was because we had a really motivated and enthusiastic teacher. Having a pilot meant that we were able to engage those parents in the discussions around the use of any device, around the learning that comes from the device and why the learning wasn’t taking over the paper pen stuff. It was actually working alongside that.
Mark du Mez: The first we heard about the pilot was they sent home a notice and it was about an information evening they were going to put on about it. They outlined basically what they thought they were going to do and how they were going to run the programme, and gave us an opportunity to come in as respond to that and air any concerns that we had.
Kate Friedwald: So we set up a parent education website which just talked them through the process of it, the device they needed, the apps, how that all worked. It also answered a lot of the frequently asked questions that we were getting. That will be extended going forward because there’s a lot more questions that have now come from those parents that we can answer.
Shane Buckner: People all came with really good questions. You know, are they going to be doing drama, are they going to be doing art. Are they still going to be working in books. There were obviously concerns about appropriateness of content being downloaded or being accessed during school time, and so it’s a partnership, and children sign agreements along with their parents, and along with the teacher of the classroom. So there’s a three-way agreement that we are providing the access, but we’re also providing them with the knowledge to actually know what to access and when to access it.
Mark du Mez: I did have some initial concerns about the pilot, mainly around, you know, these devices are quite expensive pieces of technology and whether or not people could afford it. We actually ended up leasing the ipads through FlexiRent which is another way to do that because then if they get damaged you can just take it back and get a replacement.
Shane Buckner: Parents made a choice, made an informed choice to actually get that device for their child, and we chose Apple ipads for our device and they chose to be part of it. We just found that our focus was really on the learning and not the device so we were going to stipulate especially for the trial that it was one device and that everything was catered around that. It also made it easier when we talked about the apps that we had to purchase that we were part of the volume pricing programme, so we can say we’re getting subsidised for you. Kate put in a proposal to do the BYOD class and the Board looked at that, but as part of that they really wanted some milestones where they could evaluate where it was going. Now the pilot for this one Year 5 and 6 class was just for this year to be reviewed mid-way to be presented to the Board for August meeting to see what they wanted to do.