November 23, 2010
Dear 5th through 11th Grade Parents,
As we mentioned when we conducted our recent technology surveys, St. Christopher’s is planning a change to our technology access model beginning in the 2011-2012 school year. We have arrived at this decision having considered many factors:
- What will best support the school’s curriculum and pedagogy?
- What is developmentally appropriate for boys?
- What are the financial implications for both parents and the school?
More than 70% of parents completed the surveys, and we learned a number of important things from your feedback. Ninety-four percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that it is important for St. Christopher’s to increase student access to and use of technology. Results also indicate strong parent support for an enhanced level of technology integration into our program. Lastly, your feedback confirmed that approximately two-thirds of our Upper School families already have a portable computing device their sons can use at school.
We heard from you on a number of issues we have been considering as we shape our second century technology vision. We know that with expanded access comes an increased need for cyber safety and digital citizenship. We recognize that asking parents to invest in enhanced academic tools carries with it a responsibility to see that we use those tools in a significant and meaningful way to enhance teaching and learning. We are also committed to addressing the logistical issues associated with this model. This past summer we strengthened our wireless infrastructure. We are in the process of improving access to power across campus, and we are making plans for safe storage of individual computers.
There are a number of reasons why an expanded access model makes sense for St. Christopher’s at this time.
- There is an increased demand for access on the part of both teachers and students.
- Research into boys and learning shows that use of technology is an effective way to engage boys.
- Effective use of technology has been identified by the faculty as a key 21st century leadership skill, and we are establishing K-12 benchmarks for student technology skills and teacher use.
- An ever-expanding variety of electronic resources, including digital books, provide new tools for teaching and learning and promise reduced costs.
After careful consideration, we have elected to expand to a 1:1 computer access model that will be phased in over a two-year period. We are taking this approach to ensure we go about this in a careful, effective way and because we understand the economic impact of this move. We have targeted the 7th grade to begin the Middle School transition. Boys in grades 9 and 10 will launch the program in the Upper School.
The Middle School will follow a 1:1 standardized model in which all Middle School students will own the same type of portable computer that they will use daily at school and at home. Beginning next year, families of 7th grade students will be asked to pay for their portable computer over a three-year period. We have not finalized the decision regarding which portable computer the Middle School will adopt but are estimating payments of $400-500 per year. As soon as we determine which portable computer the Middle School will use, we will inform 7th grade families how to go about purchasing their sons’ computer through the school. One of the reasons for standardization in the Middle School is to streamline installation of the various types of software used in the division as well as to provide consistency with the younger boys in the maintenance of their computers and the monitoring of their use. Though the boys in grades 6 and 8 will not have their own computers until the year after next, 2012-13, they will benefit from increased access to netbook carts and ongoing integration of technology into their programs during the 2011-12 school year.
The Upper School will follow a 1:1 open model in which each boy in grades 9 and 10 will be required to bring a computer to school each day that meets specific minimum standards set by the school. Each family will be free to acquire the portable computer of their choice through whichever provider they select. More information will be available next semester as we provide Upper School families with the minimum hardware requirements. We are also exploring options for families to purchase their computers from vendors with whom we will establish relationships. Our decision to follow an open model was influenced by the number of families who already have computers their sons may use at school. Upper School parents considering a technology purchase during the holidays are advised to consult the school prior to making a major purchase. In keeping with our current policy, juniors and seniors are welcome to bring computers to school next year, but doing so will not be mandatory.
If you have questions concerning the phased-in move to a 1:1 computer access model, please contact Hiram Cuevas, Director of Academic Technology, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804.282.3185 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 804.282.3185 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ext. 5627.