Links to videos from our recent information evenings on the Laptop Programme here

What is our digital learning strategy?

College has been at the forefront of digital learning technologies to support the learning of its boys for a number of years now. The move to use laptops in the classroom in 2014 has been a logical progression of this evolving strategy. Christ’s College requires boys to bring a laptop to school for all classes. Extensive research, both in New Zealand and globally, has shown that access to portable devices such as laptops leads to:

  • improved teaching and learning practices

  • increased student achievement, engagement and motivation

  • improved student writing and research

  • enhanced effective collaboration and communication

Christ’s College has a well resourced digital environment. Looking forward, staff need students to be able to have access to the appropriate tools ‘at the point of learning’, where access is ubiquitous. We need to ensure that our boys take hold of the advantages that such technologies offer them.

Students with portable devices can:

  • Support the ongoing use of the Christ’s College Learning Management System to access online course material to support their learning

  • Benefit from improved access to Christ’s College intranet for timetable and prep information

  • Continue to use web based tools such as Google Docs to interact with their teachers

  • Immediately access appropriate online resources to support their learning at the moment they are required without disengaging from a lesson, or group work to go find out

  • Continue to collaborate with their teachers and their peers in their learning, using a range of different tools

  • Collaborate with teachers and peers from other institutions

  • Continue the use of digital photographic, video devices and e-portfolios to demonstrate their learning and understanding

  • Continue to develop critical and analytical thinking skills by engaging in online forums and discussions

  • Engage with visual, written and video tasks during class time.

Recommended laptops for boys attending College from 2016

It is important to realise that if a student at College already has a laptop, they can continue to use it for their schoolwork, as long as it remains fit for purpose. This means it needs to have the software to meet curriculum needs, and more importantly it does need to have reliable battery life. Students are actively discouraged from bringing their power supplies into the classroom. Over time the battery life of any laptop will decline. It is important that the battery life of their laptop gets them through their school day, as there are few opportunities to charge laptops, and we do not expect boys to be carrying chargers with them or plugging into classroom power outlets.

College has been using Apple based computers for over 15 years. Over this time it has built up the expertise and systems which support this environment. College has also established long-term relationships with companies that support the learning with laptops programme. To make this process as simple as possible we have a relationship with Cyclone Computers who have an online ordering store set up for schools. You can purchase a laptop from Cyclone through their online store. You are not obliged to purchase from Cyclone, but they are able to offer alternative warranty and insurance programmes.

College ICT Services will provide software support for boys with laptops, assisting them with wireless connections and basic fault diagnosis. However, any hardware or major support issues will need to be handled by the company you purchased your laptop from or a laptop service company.

We are strongly recommending the following laptops for 2016:

  • Macbook Air, or

  • Macbook Pro with a minimum of 8GB RAM

From 2016 we will require all new boys attending College to have either a Macbook Air or a Macbook Pro.

The Macbook Air would be fine for most boys, is very light in weight and has more than enough battery life to survive a normal school day. If your son is at a senior level, and undertaking subjects which have a significant digital component (e.g. Digital Media, Media Studies, Music), then we recommend the 13 inch Macbook Pro with 8GB ram as a minimum. The increased RAM in a laptop will mean better performance for some applications.

In addition to the laptop the following is also recommended:

  • a hard case or sleeve to protect the laptop while it is used at College

  • a backpack to carry the laptop in, if your son does not have an existing backpack

  • a backup hard drive/flash drive - to be left at home, but used to backup any files stored on the laptop

  • insurance cover for potential damage - there are laptop insurance policies available from various vendors

  • we also recommend that the laptop has an extended warranty. This does not have to be an Apple warranty - there are third party warranties available.

The boys should set up an iCloud account and set the laptop up so that it requires a password when it wakes from sleep. They should also set the tracking software so the laptop can potentially be tracked if stolen.

Recommended Software

College will be providing the software required to support learning at College. This includes, for 2016, the Adobe suite for  boys in Years 12 and 13 undertaking digitally based courses. Additional curriculum areas may require the Adobe suite at various times during the school year and this will be provided on a needs basis. In addition to the Adobe software, we will be providing the Sibelius software for senior music students and video editing software for those boys undertaking media studies.

Other commercial software, which College has student licences for, will also be provided on a needs basis depending on the courses undertaken. Installation of software, which is licensed, requires additional software to be installed onto the student laptop - allowing College to manage its licensing requirements.

College makes extensive use of the Google suite of applications which are accessed online. These are free, and the files automatically save and can be accessed from any computer. They can also be easily shared with their teachers. This means that if, for some reason, your son’s computer is out of action, he can access his files from another computer/laptop.

Keeping the software up-to-date will be the boys’ responsibility.

In addition to the above mentioned software, for specific groups the following software may be required at various year levels. This software can be downloaded from http://software.christscollege.com with a College login. Some of the software is licensed for use by boys while at College, whilst other software is Open Source (Open Source software is provided free).

  • OpenOffice (Optionally you may purchase Pages or Microsoft Office as well, but this is not required)

  • PaperCut - this is the print management software which allows the laptop to print to a College copier

  • Google Chrome

  • Google Drive Client

  • Google Earth

  • Audacity (Open Source Audio editor)

  • AutoCAD (CAD Design)

  • Autograph (Commercial software with a College student Licence)

  • SketchUp (Open Source 3D design)

  • Picasa - iPhoto Alternative

  • Gimp - Photoshop Alternative

  • Inkscape - Illustrator Alternative - vector Drawing

  • ArchiCAD (Commercial software but free licences for students)

What happens to the College-owned software when a boy leaves College?

College licensed software must be removed from the laptop when a boy leaves College, or is no longer undertaking a course which the software is required for. College provides software, as part of its software package, which will assist us in managing this process.

Taking care of their laptops

Boys will need to ensure that their laptop is securely locked in their House locker when they are not using it. This includes when they attend assembly on a Tuesday, during Chapel and when they go to sport. We encourage all boys to ensure that they have the screensaver lock enabled and that the tracking software, which uses the Apple iCloud, is enabled (College will provide information on how to do this.) This feature allows you to track a misplaced/stolen device, if it is connected to a wireless network.

Boys should ensure that, when they carry their laptop around campus, it is in a protective sleeve or backpack. If the laptop is in a backpack, boys need to ensure that it doesn’t have a stack of books weighing against it, as this has been known to damage the laptop screens.

Boys need to respect other boys’ property and make sure they are never in a situation where their actions will damage either their own or another’s laptop.

What do the boys need to do after school each day?

Charge the laptop each night. It is our expectation that the boys will bring a charged laptop to College for use in their learning. There will be a very small number of temporary charging bays, fitted with Apple laptop chargers, for boys to charge laptops during lunchtimes. We do not want boys bringing laptop chargers to College. Occasionally boys will need to run software updates on their laptops. This can be done at home, with an internet connection.

Boys should also back up their laptop if they are storing files on it. We encourage boys to use cloud-based Google Drive for their written work.

What happens if my son’s laptop is damaged and away for repair?

College will have a limited number of loan devices available for short-term loan for those boys who have a laptop away for repair. The device may not have all of the functionality that a normal laptop has and its availability depends on the course that your son is undertaking.

How does my son connect to the College network?

College has an extensive wireless and wired network within its academic campus, covering all classrooms, and this is being expanded to cover all other areas including dayboy and boarding houses as well as external areas around the campus. Boys’ connections to the wireless network are monitored and filtered to ensure access to inappropriate sites are prevented. Connection to the wireless network is a simple process and ICT Services staff can assist when boys have trouble connecting.

Boys in the boarding houses also have access to the College’s wired network.

How will my son learn to use the laptop to support their learning?

In addition to learning how to use the laptop to support learning within the classroom, an extensive extra-curricular learning programme for all boys is developed. This programme will be available to all boys outside of class time and will assist them in becoming digitally fluent as well as good digital citizens.

Do I need internet access at home?

Internet access is preferable as we encourage the boys to make effective use of cloud-based learning solutions such as Google Docs, although with the right setup, these tools can be used offline. An internet connection also provides access to the College’s growing set of online resources, including the College’s online prep app.

How do I know that my son will not access inappropriate material?

At College boys have a filtered and managed internet connection, which we monitor. We block all objectionable material. College runs a series of digital citizenship courses for boys and for parents on an ongoing basis. These courses are aimed at not only developing good digital learning skills (Digital Literacy) but also cover safe use of the internet and social media. The parent courses will provide information on how you can support appropriate use of the technology by the boys in the home situation. Sites such as OpenDNS (http://www.opendns.com/home/) provide tools for parents to manage access at home if they need to. Apple’s OS also has management tools built in. It is important however that these tools do not interfere with the boys need to load educational software and use their laptops at College.

Distractions and Gaming

One of the challenges we face with the laptop programme is the potential distractions which boys may face, when using laptops both at College and at home. College has a clear policy on the playing of games during the College day - we do not allow it. We also have clear policies on acceptable use and all boys sign this policy. We have a clear expectation that boys are here to learn and we expect them to ensure that they focus fully on their learning while at College.

It is College’s expectation that any gaming will be left for the leisure hours after school, unless specifically sanctioned as part of a course or specific activity such as the programming group or other sanctioned activity. We also expect boys to be balanced in their use of the laptop, and other approaches to learning, both at College and at home. College can provide guidelines on the good use of laptops at home which also includes advice on how to manage the time your son spends on his laptop at home.

Christ's College Parents' Guide to safe laptop and internet use by their boys at home

College is providing this guide to support parents who may be concerned about their use of their laptops, including use of the internet at home. The internet can provide a range of opportunities to support learning, but it does have some pitfalls that parents need to be aware of. Some of these pitfalls can be more menacing than others. Common sense and a responsible attitude from the boys go a long way to ensuring safe use.

As a parent you may need to develop a policy for home which outlines your rules for use of the laptop and access to the internet. The rules and guidelines you put in place for a boy in Year 9 will differ for those in Year 13 - with maturity goes responsibility. With trust also comes responsibility.

Boys will often work on their prep and assignments in their bedrooms. It is not always possible for boys to work in a family area where you can monitor their access and provide support and guidance, but a family-based area is recommended, especially when there is unrestricted access to the internet.

Boys are easily distracted. Some games which can be easily downloaded from the internet have age restrictions. Talk to your son about what you believe is appropriate and what is not. A balanced approach to use of a laptop for education is important. Using  a laptop to watch movies or play games for long periods of time is not healthy for growing teenagers. Research also shows that exposure to screens immediately before bed can limit quality and immediacy of sleep - affecting the circadian rhythm. It is recommended that a minimum of 30 minutes of non-screen time is adopted before sleep.

The amount of time on the computer needs to be monitored - more than 2 hours a night would be of concern. This will vary depending on your son’s age - as senior boys may well have more assignments and prep than juniors.

For younger boys, you may need to put in place parental controls on the laptop using either Mac OS parent controls or PC/Mac based software such as K9. Care needs to be taken however that boys still have access to their laptops for school work during the school day.

Social media, illegal torrent downloads and copyright, are all aspects of digital citizenship that College is teaching, via workshops, talks and online materials. Leaving a negative digital footprint, that will affect employment and education prospects in the future, is something we need to teach the boys to avoid.

Internet safety at this age requires that you continue to monitor high-schoolers’ online lives, staying as involved as you can and injecting your own values to counteract some of the less desirable aspects of the Internet. In the high school years, teens’ online interactions can really affect their futures. Much of what they discover and contribute to can be positive and enriching -- if they play by the rules. If not, their privacy, reputation, and even their physical safety could be at risk.


Further Reading



To register for John Parsons CyberSafety Seminar, click here.