What is our digital learning strategy?
College is at the forefront of using digital technologies to support learning. Our students bring a laptop to school for all classes. Extensive research, both in New Zealand and overseas, shows 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 is a well resourced digital environment and we ensure our boys take full advantage of using e-learning resources.
Students with portable devices can:
Use the Christ’s College Learning Management System, Schoolbox, to access online course material to support their learning, timetable and prep information as well as assessments
Use web-based tools, such as Google Docs, to interact with their teachers
Access appropriate online resources to support their learning as required, without disengaging from a lesson or group work
Collaborate with teachers and peers in their learning, using a range of different tools
Collaborate with teachers and peers from other institutions
Use digital photographic, video devices and e-portfolios to demonstrate their learning and understanding
Develop critical and analytical thinking skills by engaging in online forums and discussions
Engage with visual, written and video tasks during class time
Boys entering College in 2020 are required to have one of the following laptops:
MacBook Air 13 inch or MacBook Pro 13 inch with a minimum of 8GB memory and 256GB storage
Existing MacBook Air or MacBook Pro – which has sufficient battery life to last the school day, 8GB memory and 256GB storage and is running macOS Mojave (10.14.x) or macOS Catalina (10.15.x)
The new MacBook Air will be fine for most boys. It is very light in weight and has more than enough battery life to survive a normal school day. If your son is entering College at a senior level, and undertaking subjects which have a significant digital component (e.g. Digital Media or Music), then we recommend the 13 inch MacBook Pro with 8GB memory as a minimum.
College is part of the Apple 1:1 programme - which provides educational pricing for laptops through PB Tech and Cyclone. You are not obliged to purchase from them but they can offer their own extended warranty as well as other services such as laptop insurance.
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 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.
College has a software installation process which ensures that all the boys can install the correct software for Mac laptops. This includes printing software and the Adobe Creative Cloud suite.
We encourage the boys to take responsibility for managing their laptops and we provide opportunities to assist them, through our classroom programmes and our Digital Services help desk.
College will provide the software required to support learning. This includes the Adobe suite for all boys. We provide Sibelius software for senior music students.
Other commercial software, which College has student licences for, will be provided on a needs basis depending on the course. Installation of licensed software requires additional software to be installed on student laptops, which allows 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 teachers. This means that if, for some reason, your son’s computer is out of action, he can access his files from another computer or laptop.
Keeping software up-to-date will be the boys’ responsibility.
What happens to College-owned software when a boy leaves school?
College licensed software must be removed from the laptop when a boy leaves College, or is no longer undertaking a course for which the software is required. College provides software which assists us in managing this process.
Taking care of laptops
Boys need to ensure their laptop is securely locked in their House locker when not in use. This includes when they attend assembly, or during Chapel, and when they go to sport. We encourage all boys to have the screensaver lock and tracking software, which uses Apple iCloud, enabled (College will provide information on how to do this). This feature allows tracking of a misplaced or stolen device, if it is connected to a wireless network.
Boys should ensure their laptop is carried in a protective sleeve or backpack. If in a backpack, it should not have a stack of books weighing against it, as this has been known to damage a laptop screen.
Boys should always 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.
Charging and backups
Charge the laptop every night. All boys are expected to bring a charged laptop to College each day. We do not want boys bringing 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 regularly back up their laptop if they are storing files on it. We encourage boys to use cloud-based Google Drive for written work.
What happens if my son’s laptop is damaged and away for repair?
College has a limited number of loan Chromebooks available for short-term loan for those boys who have a laptop away for repair. The device may not have all the functionality of their usual laptop and availability depends on the course your son is taking.
How does my son connect to the College network?
College has an extensive wireless and wired network, covering all classrooms, and being expanded to cover 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 prevent access to inappropriate sites. Connection to the wireless network is a simple process and Digital Services staff can assist when boys have trouble connecting.
Boys in the boarding Houses also have access to College’s wired network.
How will my son learn to use his laptop to support learning?
In addition to learning how to use the laptop to support learning within the classroom, an extensive co-curricular learning programme has been developed. This programme is 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 at home is preferable, as we encourage students 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 College’s online resources, including its online prep app.
How do I know my son will not access inappropriate material?
College has a filtered and managed internet connection and we block all objectionable material. College also runs a series of digital citizenship courses for boys and for parents. 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. Parent courses provide information on how you can support appropriate use of technology at home. Sites such as OpenDNS (http://www.opendns.com/home/) provide tools for parents to manage access at home, if needed. Apple’s OS also has built in management tools. 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 the boys may face when using laptops. College has a clear policy on gaming during the day — we do not allow it. We also have a clear policy on acceptable use and all boys sign this document. Our expectation is that boys are here to learn and we expect them to focus fully on their learning while at College.
Any gaming will be strictly for leisure after school, unless specifically sanctioned as part of a course or other activity. We 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.
Christ’s College Parents’ Guide to safe laptop and internet use
College provides this guide to support parents who may be concerned about their son's use of his laptop, including use of the internet at home. The internet can provide a range of opportunities to support learning, but it does have its pitfalls, some of which can be more menacing than others. Common sense and a responsible attitude goes 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 for a boy in Year 13 — with maturity comes responsibility. With trust also comes responsibility.
Boys will often work on prep and assignments in their bedrooms. It is not always possible for them to work in a family area where you can monitor 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, using either macOS parental controls, or PC or Mac software, such as K9. Care needs to be taken, however, that boys still have access to their laptops for school work during the day.
Responsible use of social media, illegal torrent downloads and copyright are all aspects of digital citizenship taught at College, via workshops, talks and online materials. Leaving a negative digital footprint can affect future employment and education prospects. It is something we need to teach the boys to avoid.
Internet safety requires you to continue to monitor your son's online life. Stay as involved as you can and inject your own values to counteract some of the less desirable aspects of the Internet. Much of what your son discovers and contributes to online can be positive and enriching — as long as he plays by the rules. If not, his privacy, reputation and even physical safety could be at risk.