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Dear SSIS Parents and Guardians –

In planning for our school-wide move to Apple computers, and in contemplating the requirements of new initiatives in the elementary and middle school of SSIS, we have researched the experiences of similar schools around the world and adapted their findings and practices to fit the needs of our school. We are grateful to a large community of educators around the world who have helped to formulate the most often asked questions. While we appreciate their help and suggestions, our answers are particular to SSIS and may be different from the practices of other schools. Many people here at SSIS have contributing towards creating these answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs).

FAQ’s – SSIS and the move to becoming an Apple School

Apple School
Why is the SSIS moving to an Apple School?
Why have you chosen Apple computers?
What other schools in Asia are using Apple products?

Research related to this initiative
Is there any evidence that this style of learning is better than traditional teaching methods?
Are there any negatives to learning in this way?
Does this style of learning suit all children?
How will my child ever learn good penmanship if all the work is done on computers?
What have schools with laptop programs learned from their experiences?
How will my child’s social skills be affected by the constant interaction with a computer versus face-to-face contact?

Implementation at SSIS
How often will the laptops be used in SSIS classrooms?
Will the laptop be used in all classes?
Will all SSIS teachers be expected to use the laptops with students?
Will children be taught proper research skills using the computer?
Who controls the level of plagiarism and copyright issues?
Will the computers be checked for inappropriate material?
Will textbooks be online?
What will students do with their laptops during PE or music classes and after school activities?

Usage of computer
Will students be able to email, chat, and play games on their laptops at any time?
Will the school monitor the hours the student is allowed on the computer?
Will students be allowed to use the computer in the cafeteria and playground?
Will my child only have access to school-provided software?
Will students be able to install software on the laptop?
Can a student use their iPod, iPhone, iPad or digital camera with the laptop?
Can a student use their laptop computer over the summer?
What will be the consequences of improper use of the computer?
How will SSIS police cyber bullying in the school?
How will we protect people’s privacy, given that the computers will likely have built-in cameras and video recorders?
How will children print documents at school?
Can students use their own accessories with the laptop?
Do students need to have access to a printer at home?

Usage of Internet
How can we limit students’ access to inappropriate material on the Internet? What will the school do to help prevent students from going to inappropriate sites?
Will the Internet be filtered to protect the children from inappropriate sites?
Will the children have constant access to the Internet or will this be at specific controlled times?
Will students be able to use the laptops for Internet access at home?
If I have more questions or need clarification, who can I contact for more information?

Security
How will students keep their laptops safe when they are not using them?
Will students be able to leave their laptops at school overnight?
Should students purchase a laptop bag to carry the laptop in?

Professional Development of Teachers
Are the teachers at SSIS supporting the laptop initiative?
Is SSIS providing professional development for the teachers?

Continuing Access during repair, missing computer, etc.
What if my child forgets to bring his/her laptop to school, loses power, or it is being repaired?
If I need to get a repair, can the school help?
If a computer is misplaced, lost, or stolen, can the school help?
What if my child’s laptop crashes during the school day?
Will a student be given a new laptop if hers or his goes bad?

Finances
Why is the school moving away from the technology fee?
What is the start-up cost of the laptop program for parents?
Are there any additional costs associated with the MacBook purchase?
If I have more than one child, do I have to buy multiple computers? If so, is there a discount for the additional purchases?
If my children leave the school, can I sell the computer back to the school?

Technical
How will laptops be configured?
How often will laptops need to be replaced?
How often should the computer’s operating system and applications be upgraded?
How will SSIS handle theft prevention?
Will there be wireless internet access throughout the entire school?

 

Apple School


Why is the SSIS moving to an Apple School?

We understand that the use of technology plays an important role in improving the quality of instruction and is a tool for the entire learning community. More than this, though, students require a fluency in technologies which were not even part of the landscape just a few years ago.

We recognize that in order to advance the level of technology instruction at SSIS we need to establish a common platform throughout the school, one which will best facilitate the aspects of technology which are critical for students to understand and master.

A common platform enables students and teachers to easily get support from one another, allowing teachers to quickly move beyond instruction in the technical aspects of technology use to the actual content and creative areas of instruction. Unifying the platform will allow teachers to better leverage the use of instructional technology in the classroom.

Why have you chosen Apple computers?

There are five main reasons why we have chosen to work with Apple on this initiative:

  • Apple is an innovative and proven leader in K-12 education – they have achieved an outstanding reputation in educational computing and have invested heavily in both research and collaboration to continually develop new approaches to student learning.
  • Apple’s seamless integration of applications, cross-platform compatibility, and a secure operating system allow for maximum educational use which allows educators to focus their students on the learning objectives.
  • Apple hardware is robust and durable, and the software has been designed specifically for the hardware, leading to smooth integration of software and hardware making it easier for users to create digital content.
  • While Apple offers a range of hardware options, all use the identical operating system, ensuring that the experience is truly “plug and play.” Apple’s track record of supporting older hardware on the newest operating system allows individuals to retain their machines longer than the average in a Windows environment.
  • Apple computers are excellent for content creation. The computers come pre-loaded with creativity apps and a built-in camera, which offers intuitive tools that schools need to make lessons more creative and relevant with video, audio and photos. The creativity apps includes GarageBand (for recording and mixing music). Excellent supplementary software is available for free or at a low cost. Software purchased through the Apple App store may be loaded on all computers owned by the family at no additional cost. This holds for content (books, movies, music) as well.

What other schools in Asia are using Apple products?

Below is a list of some of the Apple schools in the Asian region.

  1. Cambodia
  • International School Phnom Penh
  1. China/Hong Kong
  • Shanghai American School (Shanghai)
  • Concordia International School (Shanghai)
  • Western Academy of Beijing (Beijing)
  • International School of Beijing (Beijing)
  • Beijing International School (Beijing)
  • Beijing City International School (Beijing)
  • Chinese International School (Hong Kong)
  • Canadian International School (Hong Kong)
  • Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong)
  1. Indonesia
  • Jakarta International School
  • Sinarmas World Academy
  1. Japan
  • Yokohama International School
  • American School in Japan
  1. Korea
  • Seoul Foreign School
  • Korea International School
  • Taejon Christian International School
  1. Malaysia
  • International School of Kuala Lumpur
  • Garden International School
  • Nexus International School
  1. Singapore
  • United World College
  • Singapore American School
  • Canadian International School
  • Australian International School
  • ISS International School
  1. Thailand
  • International School of Bangkok
  • New International School of Thailand (NIST)

 

Research related to this initiative


Is there any evidence that this style of learning is better than traditional teaching methods?

There are two sides to every story, and research will point to different results depending on a multitude of contributing factors. However, there is qualitative and quantitative research showing considerable improvement in classroom practice for students using laptop computers. There also is significant evidence that computer-mediated, and media-rich, learning environments enrich the learning experience and deepen understanding.

Research from a long-term study of laptop initiatives shows a number of results, including

  • Increased independent inquiry-based learning
  • Higher level instructional feedback
  • Greater integration of subject areas
  • Higher level of sustained writing
  • More student discussion
  • More performance assessment
  • Increased hands-on learning

There is also evidence that students develop and practice unique meta-cognitive processes (the ability to understand HOW they are learning) within a laptop environment, and that students engaged in properly developed laptop programs benefit academically and socially from the experience. Additional research indicates that:

  • quality of writing improves
  • classroom discussion increases
  • quality of submitted work improves
  • collaborative expertise improves
  • organization improves
  • motivation and commitment to work improves
  • responses to learning situations improve

Are there any negatives to learning in this way?

Research indicates that there can be negatives to the use of technology, including either underutilization and overutilization. Our teachers are being trained to manage the laptop resources effectively and optimally. For example, in a school where technology is overused, the time allotted to sustained reading could be reduced. Our teachers are being made aware of this, and other, issues.

In addition, the transportation of laptops is an area of potential concern. With proper procedures and expectations in place, we can reduce loss and/or damage. In all aspects of the program, teachers and parents will need to understand potential issues and be able to respond appropriately.

Does this style of learning suit all children?

No one style of learning can suit all children. However, research indicates that classrooms that incorporate computer-based inquiries demonstrate an overall improvement in student performance. See this recent article out of California for more information on how laptop programs can make youth more engaged citizens.

A 1:1 laptop programs help create a standard learning environment, a sense of ownership of learning, and more room for differentiation in the classroom.

How will my child ever learn good penmanship if all the work is done on computers?

The explicit teaching of handwriting, and the requirement of handwritten work, will remain an important component of our program. This is important because not only do students need to practice penmanship, students exercise different parts of their brains when they write by hand. Fine motor skills, which come with writing and drawing, are important for many future careers from engineering to art.

What have schools with laptop programs learned from their experiences?

Schools have learned that students take more ownership of their learning when they are engaged by notebooks and meaningful application of technology resources. In addition, research shows that laptop computers provide significant improvement in learning and teaching. However, in order to realize those results, it is important that students in laptop programs have sufficient and timely technical support.

Laptop initiatives are not a panacea for all of the intricate problems of the education process. Some surprising and not so surprising results include finding that laptops are more resilient than one might expect, and middle school students are toughest on their laptops. Importantly, students need to be taught how to use laptops effectively, and parents can and should be more connected to the learning process.

SSIS has taken all these factors into account when developing its own laptop program, and modeled much of the program on the successful laptop programs already in place.

How will my child’s social skills be affected by the constant interaction with a computer versus face-to-face contact?

We are constantly striving for a healthy balance between technology use and the ‘offline’ skills and activities. Laptops should not replace, nor interfere with, critical and fundamental human contact. Research shows that in laptop classrooms, students actually engaged in more class discussions. SSIS students will continue to participate in face-to-face group activities both in class as well as in extra curricular activities.

A number of additional references and resources related to laptop research can be found on our website at

http://www.ssis.edu.vn/learning/laptop_program/research

 

Implementation at SSIS


How often will the laptops be used in SSIS classrooms?

The laptops are a tool to support learning. Teachers will determine when using the laptop is appropriate. We anticipate increased usage as students and faculty become more familiar with the computers. However, technology will not be used simply for the sake of using technology. It will only be used when and where appropriate – in situations where it enhances and extends the learning process.

Will the laptop be used in all classes?

The laptops will not necessarily be used in every class that your child attends every day, but they will be used within all subjects. The success of a laptop program is not the computer being used “a lot” but, rather, the laptop being used where appropriate to improve learning.

Here are some examples of how laptops might be used in class:

  • Access to a wider array of interactive resources and information other than that which a teacher and a book provides in a traditional classroom.
  • The ability to quickly download digital materials thereby saving the time, expense and wastage of paper.
  • The ability for students to expand the walls of their classroom and include other students and experts in the field through online educational discourse.
  • Ready access to powerful communication tools (video and podcasting, for example) through which students can demonstrate their understanding.
  • The ability to directly upload data from their heart rate monitors in P.E. class and import it into graph making programs giving them a visualization of their progress.
  • The ability to simultaneously write documents with students through the use of online tools providing the ability for peer-editing of written work.

Will all SSIS teachers be expected to use the laptops with students?

Yes. Teachers will use laptops with students where appropriate. Teachers will receive thorough training before they are expected to work with students, and they will receive ongoing professional development (PD) as we seek meaningful implementation of technology resources. We have already begun this process with our teachers who have attended a variety of technology related conferences over the past two years.

Will children be taught proper research skills using the computer?

Absolutely. Research skills are already being taught at SSIS, and we will continue to teach proper information skills and the use of internet search engines as well as the accessing of online databases.

Who controls the level of plagiarism and copyright issues?

Plagiarism is not a new issue in schools, nor is plagiarism unique to the digital realm. Education in its entirety has to face and deal with the impact of what in simple terms is ‘cutting and pasting’. Rules and expectations applied to student work prior to the use of computers remain in effect.

The more complex issues are, of course: breach of copyright, plagiarism, and the passing off others’ work as one’s own. SSIS will continue to enforce its expectation of the originality of all student work and required that all copyrighted work to be acknowledged and references cited. The school, if necessary, can use software (such as Turnitin.com) to check student work against content available on the Internet. Parents with questions regarding our policies should refer to the SSIS Acceptable Use Policy, available through our website.

Will the computers be checked for inappropriate material?

SSIS reserves the right to confirm that students remain within the expectations, rules, policies, and procedures of the school community and that student use of technology conforms to local law. Random checks will be made on the network activity of student machines.

Will textbooks be online?

Where the teacher deems an online resource to be superior to the print version, the online resource may be used. If cost savings are available with online texts, and the online texts are equal to available print resources, SSIS will consider the use of digital texts.

What will students do with their laptops during PE or music classes and after school activities?

Whenever the laptops are not used in these classes, ES students can leave laptops in a lockable storage cabinet in their classrooms. MS/HS students can leave laptops in their  lockers. See security section of this FAQ.

 

Usage of computer


Will students be able to email, chat, and play games on their laptops at any time?

The laptops’ primary purpose is to serve as a learning tool; they are not to be used as toys during the academic day. Student activities will be guided by the environment in which they are currently working; teaching children to communicate properly and appropriately with these tools is part of our mandate.

As each student will be the primary administrator of his or her laptop, it remains a parental decision whether or not to permit their son or daughter to install games or other software on their laptop.

Will the school monitor the hours the student is allowed on the computer?

Laptops will be only one part of a rich and diverse learning environment at SSIS.  Our teachers will monitor laptop use in class, and the ICT Department will work with teachers to ensure a balanced learning environment in the School. We encourage parents to set expectations for home which limit the use of technology.

Will students be allowed to use the computer in the cafeteria and playground?

Drinks and food can cause damage to laptops. Students will be expected to protect their laptops at all times. Students will be trained, and encouraged, to work safely with respect to their environment and within the policies and procedures established by SSIS. We discourage the use of computers in the cafeteria or outside areas of campus except for a class activity. See the security section of these FAQs.

Will my child only have access to school-provided software?

SSIS will provide access to all necessary curriculum software. Any additional software must be legally purchased and licensed. As students are the administrators of their own laptops, they have the ability to load additional, non-school software.

Will students be able to install software on the laptop?

As students and parents will have administrative rights to the laptop, they will have the ability to install additional software. However, SSIS urges caution when installing supplementary software. If a laptop is found to have inappropriate software (eg. file sharing, torrents, hacking software) the student will be subject to disciplinary action as per our SSIS Acceptable Use Policy. We assume that students will appreciate the fact they have been trusted with administrative rights to their laptops and will treat these rights with respect.

Can a student use their iPod, iPhone, iPad or digital camera with the laptop?

Yes. However, there is no school expectation that families will shift their home technology to fit the school environment.

Can a student use their laptop computer over the summer?

Since families will own the laptop, students will keep them over the summer.

What will be the consequences of improper use of the computer?

There are policies and procedures established by SSIS to deal with inappropriate behaviour. Specific consequences will be determined by the nature of the infraction. Students are reminded they are subject to the Acceptable Use Policy when using SSIS network resources.

How will SSIS police cyber bullying in the school?

SSIS has established policies and procedures to deal with inappropriate behaviour. Specific consequences will be determined by the nature of the infraction and dealt with accordingly. Similarly, students will be guided through appropriate digital citizenship through all areas of the curriculum.

How will we protect people’s privacy, given that the computers will likely have built-in cameras and video recorders?

SSIS treats the issue of privacy rights seriously. No one has the right to record (using audio or video) another person without clear and direct permission. Students cannot record each other, teachers, or anyone else at SSIS without the permission of the persons involved.

How will children print documents at school?

Students are provided with “printing credit” so they can print a limited number of pages (color or black and white) with their student ID cards. When balance provided has been used up, students can top up their printing balance in the business office.

Can students use their own accessories with the laptop?

Yes, but given the policies and procedures that are in place to protect students, parents and the school, any accessories must fall within prescribed guidelines as set by SSIS.

Do students need to have access to a printer at home?

This is not a specific requirement of the program, but in order to minimize printing at school, students may wish to have access to their own printer at home.

 

Usage of Internet


How can we limit students’ access to inappropriate material on the Internet? What will the school do to help prevent students from going to inappropriate sites?

SSIS has an Acceptable Use Policy in place. This policy is strictly enforced and the consequences of breaching the guidelines are clear. In addition, the school uses a filter system (Firewall) to guard against inappropriate material.

Will the Internet be filtered to protect the children from inappropriate sites?

Yes. The school uses OpenDNS to filter internet searches. This filter is reviewed on an ongoing basis to provide necessary academic access to sites while preventing, as far as possible, the accessing of inappropriate material.

Will the children have constant access to the Internet or will this be at specific controlled times?

Because of the wireless network, the laptops will always be able to access the Internet; however, the school’s Internet access will be filtered for inappropriate content, and computer use time will be managed by teachers and administrators.

Will students be able to use the laptops for Internet access at home?

If the Internet is available at home, the laptop will be able to access it. If there is a problem connecting at home, students can visit the Service Center at SSIS during school hours for advice or parents can contact their Internet Service Provider (ISP) for technical support. Apple computers follow standard protocols for accessing wired, or wireless, networks.

If I have more questions or need clarification, who can I contact for more information?

SSIS is an open environment and we encourage parents to follow the regular channels for questions, clarification or information. Parents should contact their student’s homeroom teacher, section head, or the Technology Director for any questions regarding the laptop program. We look forward to continued dialog with parents as we move forward with our ICT initiatives this year, and in years to come.

 

Security


How will students keep their laptops safe when they are not using them?

We fully expect there to be many times in the day when the laptops are not being used (e.g. during physical education class, during lunchtime, etc.) and we appreciate students will need to store their laptops somewhere secure. ES students will store the laptops in the classrooms. MS/HS students will store them in their lockers.

SSIS has also installed CCTV cameras that are directed towards the lockers, hallways and other areas of concern.

Will students be able to leave their laptops at school overnight?

We may allow this during the initial period of the year as students learn about the use and care of these laptops. Storage would be in lockable carts which allow for charging overnight.

Given the nature of our laptop program, however, we fully expect students will take their laptops home to continue their learning. Students will also need to charge them at home before the next day of school.

Should students purchase a laptop bag to carry the laptop in?

Yes. Students should purchase an appropriate case to protect the laptop. Some students may also choose to further protect their laptop with the use of a shell. Examples of these may be seen all around campus.

 

Professional Development of Teachers


Are the teachers at SSIS supporting the laptop initiative?

Yes. In fact, the most often heard comment from our Grade 5 teachers is that they wouldn’t want to teach without it and our Grade 4 teachers are already planning for its introduction next year. Our teachers understand and support the laptop program. We realize that the learning curve for some is more significant than for others. The Administration and ICT Department is committed to fully supporting teachers throughout this process.

Is SSIS providing professional development for the teachers?

SSIS recognizes the need for ongoing professional development for all staff members. The training needs to include the integration of technology into learning, teaching, and assessment for understanding.

Professional Development is a top priority for the success of all learners. Professional development must be integrated within all content areas and grade levels. Also, professional development  must be ongoing due to the simultaneous needs to learn how to use technology, how to integrate technology into instruction, and the continual emergence of new and improved technologies and practices. Professional development must be differentiated to address the needs and aptitudes of adult learners.

Several years ago we began a very successful initiative by introducing the position of Technology Learning Facilitator (TLF). We have expanded the program to include a dedicated Technology Learning Facilitator (TLF) in each division.

The TLF provides support for staff learning to integrate technology in teaching. The TLF demonstrates knowledge of, and experience in, teaching and using best practices, the integration of technology in teaching and learning, and professional development.

The TLF provides “just-in-time” training for teachers as well as group instruction and training sessions.

 

Continuing Access during repair, missing computer, etc.


What if my child forgets to bring his/her laptop to school, loses power, or it is being repaired?

Spare laptops, in limited numbers, will be available for borrowing from the ICT office on a case-by-case basis. We encourage students to be vigilant in charging their laptops at home and treat their laptop as an essential part of our SSIS learning environment, just as they would their notebooks, pens, protractors, or PE uniform.

If I need to get a repair, can the school help?

Yes. SSIS will work with vendors to arrange a system to allow parents to bring non-functioning machines to school where vendors will pick them up, take them for repair, and return to school. Our goal is to minimize the inconvenience experienced if the need arises.

If a computer is misplaced, lost, or stolen, can the school help?

Yes. SSIS will work to install and activate a program, like “Find Me”, that helps locate a missing machine. Parents and students will be guided through the set-up process. With the dramatic investment of school technology resources on campus, we are already working to tighten other security measures.

What if my child’s laptop crashes during the school day?

Students will have access to the on-site service through our ICT Department and will, if necessary, be provided with a loaner laptop so that the classroom learning is uninterrupted.

Will a student be given a new laptop if hers or his goes bad?

If a laptop is still under warranty, it will be replaced or repaired through the Apple vendor and covered under Apple’s warranty. The large number of Apple computers in use by SSIS, its teachers, and students, actually works to decrease the time required for repairs by encouraging our vendors to stock common parts.

 

Finances


Why is the school moving away from the technology fee?

Currently, SSIS has a technology fee of USD $250/year charged to all Gr5-8 students this year.  In response to parent requests that students own their laptops, we have made the decision to moving away from school owned laptops to student owned laptops. The basic difference is a yearly fee with nothing to show at the end compared to a greater up-front investment with hardware that remains with the purchaser.

What is the start-up cost of the laptop program for parents?

The cost of the MacBook laptop varies between VND 20,000,000 – VND 30,000,000 in a one-time purchase.

Are there any additional costs associated with the MacBook purchase?

Yes. Students are expected to purchase a sturdy laptop bag and/or cover. The school has no plans to issue a school-approved laptop bag. We believe that a diverse range of bags draws less attention to our students as they travel to and from school.

A recent study shows that 86% of our Grade 3 and Grade 4 students either use school-provided transportation, are dropped off and picked up by a parent or driver, or walk or ride to school accompanied by a parent or guardian.

If I have more than one child, do I have to buy multiple computers? If so, is there a discount for the additional purchases?

There is no discount for multiple purchases. If you have more than one student in the laptop program, you will need to purchase a laptop for each of your students. While a computer might be shared in the evening at home, it is not possible for students to share a computer during the academic day.

If my children leave the school, can I sell the computer back to the school?

When your child leaves SSIS, the MacBook is the property of the family and may be kept or sold. SSIS will not purchase used MacBooks.

 

Technical


How will laptops be configured?

As the laptops will be purchased and owned by SSIS students and parents, they will retain complete administrative control over their own laptops (e.g. the ability to install software, configure network access, install extensions to browsers, etc.). That being said, we will provide guidance in this regard and work with parents to ensure that the administration of these laptops is as efficient as possible.

In cases where parents are concerned about allowing their child to act as the laptop administrator, we will work with them to find an appropriate solution on a case-by-case basis. We stand firmly behind the philosophy and vision that students need to be empowered to make the best decisions for themselves – with the school and parent community as guides.

How often will laptops need to be replaced?

Parents have the right to extend the use of the laptop for as long as the laptop is functioning and meets the SSIS requirements of the year level. Laptops must be able to run a current operating system and applications. SSIS is suggesting that laptops be replaced after four years – provided the laptops can still function efficiently in the learning environment at school.

Parents must understand that they will be responsible for all repairs beyond the contracted years of the warranty. New laptops come with a one-year warranty and maintenance agreement. The standard AppleCare maintenance program provides an additional two years immediately after the first year. After that point, the length of time a laptop can be used depends upon the care shown in the handling. The length of time typically may extend from three to five years.

How often should the computer’s operating system and applications be upgraded?

Students should endeavor to update their software and applications as frequently as possible in order to maintain the best working conditions of the laptop. In cases where there are specific software conflicts or complications with our network, we will advise appropriately – but we anticipate these instances to be few and far between.

One very positive phenomena among major computer and software manufacturers is the release of free updates and upgrades to computer operating systems. Apple has now made their upgrades free and there are some indications that others may follow suit.

How will SSIS handle theft prevention?

The school will teach students about protective systems and practices (e.g. not using a school-labelled bag, not drawing attention to oneself by taking equipment out in public spaces, safeguarding bags while in transit, etc.). These practices hold for handheld technology (phones and tablets) just as it does for laptops. District 7 also benefits from the increased presence of security to create a safer environment.

Will there be wireless internet access throughout the entire school?

Yes. Wireless will be available throughout the school for students and teachers. Guests to the school are allowed internet access on a separate network.

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