The Upper School’s Open Model

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So what exactly is an open model? An open model is a 1:1 computer model where students are permitted to use any computer as long as it satisfies the minimum requirements established by the St. Christopher’s Technology Department.

Can I use an iPad? The St. Christopher’s Tech Department does not recommend the iPad as a student’s primary computer at this time.  It is possible that it will become a viable option as the iPad’s capabilities are improved, but at present the issues with printing and network file manipulation (among others) prevent it from doing all that is needed as a primary computer for our model.

I’m going to purchase a new computer.

What should we avoid? Our research suggests that students should avoid laptops with screens that are 15 inches or greater.  The goal of your son’s laptop is to provide easy access to applications and the web for research, projects, homework, and communication.  It is not designed to be a desktop replacement. Students who purchased these large laptops at other schools often ended up asking for smaller laptops later in the year because of bulkiness, weight, and less than satisfactory battery life.

What do you recommend? Based on our vendor relationships, we recommend the following computers:

Apple: Present models of the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air computers will all meet the school’s minimum standards.  Note that the MacBook Air is a machine built for portability but that you will likely need another Macintosh (usually a desktop) at home for software installation, updates, etc. (or at least an external CD/DVD drive).

On the Windows side, we have had good experiences with Dell and Hewlett-Packard machines, but there are certainly other quality vendors as well.  If you purchase a netbook, pay special attention to the hardware included (most do not include a CD/DVD drive, for example).

We plan to establish relationships with vendors on both platforms by the end of the school year that might assist parents in finding specific, appropriate models and (we hope) will provide a bit of a price break as well.

What are the minimum hardware requirements for Windows, OSX, and Linux?

*Click on the table to see a larger image

*Note that the age “requirement” is actually a suggestion based on experience in education settings, and does not mean that any machine over 3 years is unacceptable.  Note, however, that older machines often have speed, memory, battery life, and other limitations that might render them less-than-adequate for the tasks required.

What productivity software should be installed on the computer?

St. Christopher’s standard software suite is Microsoft Office, available for both the Windows and Macintosh platforms.  However, any approach that will allow students to both open and save in Microsoft Office format is acceptable (Open Office, Google Docs, any software package that provides built-in translators to and from Word/Excel/PowerPoint).

Are there any recommended accessories? Yes!

*for new computers

  • an extended warranty (costs to repair a portable computer are high)*
  • accidental warranty (warranties do not cover abuse, theft, or accidental damage)*
  • an external CD/DVD drive if your computer does not have one built in*
  • high capacity battery if available*
  • external hard drive for backing up files
  • additional AC power adapter (in case you want to have one at school and one at home)
  • headset or ear buds (for private listening)
  • protective portable computer sleeve or backpack with a computer compartment
  • micro-fiber cleaning cloth to remove fingerprints on the screen
  • Have a question? Enter your questions or comments by clicking  the “leave a comment” link below and someone from the tech department will respond as soon as they are able.

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    2 Responses to The Upper School’s Open Model

    1. shellydean says:

      I appreciate the information on the 1:1 program – it sounds great! Is the 1:1 starting with the 7th graders next year? So that means that the 8th graders won’t have computers, but they’ll get them in 9th grade? Thanks!

      • cuevash says:

        Hi Shelly,

        You are correct. 8th grade students in 2011-2012 will not be required to purchase a computer. They will continue to use the netbook carts that are distributed around the MS. As 9th graders however, students will be part of the Open Model in the US which simply means that students will need a computer that satisfies the minimum requirements established by the tech department. The school will not be purchasing the computers for families but we are working on developing vendor relationships to assist families.

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