From left, students Lawrence Gayden, Gemeny Givens
and Fiona McIntosh at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda. This
fall, students will bring their own computers to school.
Chris Duffy photo
to begin this fall at SJND
For many of the “old school” generation,
the school year was synonymous with lugging around all kinds of academic
baggage — backpacks, book bags, rolling book bags and the like,
loaded with heavy books and other school supplies.
The load will be considerably lighter for students attending Alameda’s
St. Joseph Notre Dame High School this fall. That’s when the school
will launch its Bring Your Own Computer program.
Students will be required to bring their own personal computers —
whether it’s a laptop, netbook or tablet — with them to school
every day. The computers must meet specific requirements that have been
developed by SJND’s technology committee. The requirements include
computer devices that have a four-hour battery capacity, a mechanical
(not virtual) QWERTY keyboard, and software that supports the latest version
of a standard browser. (SJND posted the full list of requirements on its
website at http://sjnd.org.)
SJND chose this BYOC program instead of a “one (specific) computer
fits all” type program for a number of reasons, said Kristopher
White, SJND’s assistant principal of academics. Requiring that students
use their own computers provides students with the benefit of being able
to use devices that they are already familiar with. Students will also
benefit by having ready access to information for research, practice,
collaboration and other uses, the ability to communicate to groups of
people if and when that is needed, and it will help better equip students
for the technologically enhanced life that they will face after leaving
the Alameda campus.
SJND’s new personal computing device program will help students
“in the development of these skills,” White said.
Students will use the computers in various ways from note-taking and organizing
class assignments, to participating in teacher-moderated online student
discussions and creating audio and visual content to demonstrate their
work. Each academic program at SJND will develop a “technology use
plan” to help guide teachers to see how each course can best use
the numerous technologies.
The new program is also designed to improve communication between and
among all members of the school’s community, White said. Teachers
currently communicate electronically with students through e-mail, PowerSchool
(a student information system) and through the school’s Moodle site
(a software package for producing Internet-based courses and websites)
when outside of class.
Next year teachers will be able to provide immediate feedback to students,
and students will be able to provide similar feedback to each other electronically
through the Internet or other interactive methods.
The BYOC program will not in most cases be a financial burden to families
at the high school since, according to research, many students already
own a personal computing device. Families can also buy new computer devices
that meets the school’s minimum requirements for as little as $400.
Refurbished devices can be found for as little as $250.
“When one considers the decreased expenses in textbooks over the
four years of high school due to schoolwide use of e-textbooks and online
resources, and the fact that this purchase can be spread out over the
student’s four years in high school, the expense to families during
this transition has been kept as minimal as possible,” White said.
A number of workshops and a new school technology handbook, which will
be available in the spring, will help the parents learn more about the
BYOC program and how it operates. Students will be brought up to speed
by attending a BYOC Startup Camp before the start of the 2012-13 school