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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the plan to pay for replacing this equipment in 3-5 years, especially given current budget forecasts? The presentations show an expected useful life of these devices to be 5-7 years. This is completely unrealistic and my experience suggests useful life of closer to 3-4 years in this setting.

Everyone has a different opinion on useful life but the real issue is what the District will do when the time comes to replace them. Devices constantly change so we need to be abreast of these changes and test these over time so when a decision point approaches we have options. The School Department will be at another decision point when these devices reach their end of life and we’ll need to decide if we continue to purchase them or if families will be asked to purchase them. We’ve seen school districts adopt both models and there be more data available over the next few years for us to assess their success and help the town make an informed decision. We have and continue to do extensive research on implementation options.

– Laptop batteries only have a useful life of around 2-3 years. Hard drives have a high failure rate over 4-5 years. Are you budgeting to replace batteries and hard drives?

To address these needs within the1-to-1 program we have established an annual $75 fee which covers any out of warranty repair costs, which to date have been minimal, and should be modest since we purchased an extended warranty for 3 years. During this 3 year period we anticipate funds to grow in this account which should be more than adequate to cover battery replacement and hard drive replacements as needed.

– We’re planning to save money by greatly eliminating or reducing ”textbooks, encyclopedias, calculators and agenda books”?

Wilson Middle School saved $1000 on agenda books this year.

Paper–usually Wilson has ordered 2 pallets of paper by this time in year and we are still using pallet 1.

What about eye strain?
Eye strain is certainly a concern, just as it is reading a whiteboard. The 1-to-1 computing environment does not mean that students are on the computer 24/7. It does mean that they are doing more reading online but part of our training for students has been appropriate ergonomics. We have mainly focused on the body alignment vs. eye strain.

Eyestrain Definition
By Mayo Clinic staff
Eyestrain occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, such as driving a car for extended periods, reading or working at a computer.
Although eyestrain can be annoying, it usually isn’t serious and goes away once you rest your eyes. In some cases, signs and symptoms of eyestrain can indicate an underlying eye condition that needs treatment. Although you may not be able to change the nature of your job or all the factors that can cause eyestrain, you can take steps to reduce eyestrain.

Will students be expected to do most of their reading on a computer screen?
Yes.

Can the e-textbooks be loaded on to other devices such as a Kindle with an e-ink screen which is better suited for long-term reading? Laptop computers are NOT a good substitute for a textbook.

Any PDF can be sent through the whispernet to a Kindle. However, we do not require Kindles. We are all allowing Kindles and Ebooks at school if students want to use them. At WMS and KMS, in-class texts are available (actual copies) and online versions of the text are on teacher sites. However, it must be stated that the old “textbook” heavy curriculum has much changed and the reliance on such a resource as the sole “content” source is diminishing.

This is a new paradigm–parents should understand that their own experience as public school students does not necessarily apply in this new learning environment.

Our research shows that children are responsive to and supported by this environment. Colleges are moving to this without exception. Texts are posted to blackboard sites at the college level and e-texts are in play. In addition to the academic benefits, we believe 1-to-1 will better prepare kids for this work after they graduate from Natick High.

– Has RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) effects on adolescents been considered with scientifically based research? How will proper ergonomics be taught and continually emphasized? The answer I heard previous was something along the lines of ‘we haven’t heard that it’s been a problem’. This is unacceptable.

This is not the answer we gave. We worked with local occupational and physical therapist, Steve Crowell, MSPT, CEAS, Director of Rebound Physical Therapy to create our handbook and training for students.

– Without computer labs, how will students be exposed to software that is only available on an expensive per-computer license?

We use an automated tool to distribute software to teachers and students in a number of ways. It’s called the Casper Suite. We can distribute software via a self service website so software we approve for use can be installed or upgraded at home or school. It allows approved software to be installed without needing administrative access to the machine which is helpful for students and we can also push software out to teachers and students or remove software remotely. It also lets us send out emergency patches to fix issues reported to us without having to physically collect all machines to apply a fix. It’s a real life saver and is essential to a successful1-to-1 deployment. We will also use this tool to distribute restricted software that may be licensed to smaller groups of students to avoid the cost of buying dedicated machines but also letting students run this software on their student laptops to work on assignments at home which was never an option before.

– What’s the plan if the one-to-one program doesn’t work out? The answer I heard previously was ‘It has to work, it will work, we’ll make it work’. We’re saving under $700,000 by avoiding building permanent computer labs, yet spending over $2 million on the computers necessary to replace them.

We have researched this extensively (and we have notably not found data showing decreased performance in 1-to-1 districts). All of our data shows that 1-to-1–when properly implemented–is quite successful. The states of Maine and Pennsylvania are 1-to-1, and Indiana and North Carolina have plans currently in the legislation (both Maine and Indiana use Macs). This is not counting the thousands of districts across the country that have employed 1-to-1. We have been planning this initiative for three years. We have reviewed the research and visited countless 1-to-1 districts to learn best practice. One needs to understand that we are educating digital natives, a population of students that are unlike any other student population ever experienced in the public schools. When we employ the technology they are used to using and love to use, we have no doubt that great academic results will be achieved.

I have concerns about radiation emitted from both wireless networks and from the computer. What are you doing to protect our children?
Here’s advice from the World Health organization which does not advocate doing anything at this time as the amount of radiation is negligible. Click here on World Health Organization Report on Electromagnetic Radiation

What will a student do if they have technical problems at home and can’t study for a test or finish homework?
As with any homework issue, we would ask parents to sign off via note the circumstances that created the missed homework and we would accommodate–as long as the situation was not chronic.

Since the kids now have “school” email accounts – is someone checking the accounts? Yes, the accounts are run with the same filtering and checking mechanisms used by our NPS employees.

Can the parents get access to check the email messages? Parents will have to require that their children share the email and log in with them.

Will there be support available on weekends and evenings? NPS is exploring a partnership with the local Apple store for these issues. But again, if a problem means that work production was reduced, we ask parents to write a note to school, we’ll have the in-school help desk work on the computer and the child and teacher will work out the missed homework.

What are the controls so that students are not expected to be “on line” all the time (after school time)? The time allotted for homework will continue to be in keeping with the NPS homework policy and expected times (max 2 hours per night for 8th grade). A good amount of that homework will be done using the computer. We continue to encourage students to read novels, join clubs and balance their work life and their homework life–balancing online time and offline time. This will require teachers and parents to be sending this message to students.

Will there be any blocks or security on certain websites? The same filtering system and parameters present in the school building will follow the laptops home. Anything blocked at school will be blocked at home.

Will the laptops travel back & forth to school each day? Yes, via student bags that will come with the laptop.

Will the laptops be used for all subjects or just L & L? All subjects will enjoy use of the laptops.

Will testing be administered online? some tests will be administered online and some won’t–just like we do now.

How are teachers measured or monitored in blended learning?

Will laptops be used in all grades at the middle level (at some point) or remain in 8th grade? At this point only grades 8-12 will be participating in this project. However, technology will continue to be integrated into all levels of the Natick schools.

Break/Fix: How is that handled? Bring the broken laptop to our in-school help desk. They will assess and repair. Are the laptops locked down so the kids can’t download software? Students will not have administrative rights to the laptop so they cannot install anything without the help desk assisting them. We will heavily manage what is present on the laptop to ensure focus on educational use.

What kind of tech support will parents receive to hook mac’s up to home networks securely when parents have only PC experience? We will provide an in-depth training in late August or early September to share care, use and Apple training for families prior to students being able to bring home the laptop.

Has it been considered to have the kids keep the laptops at school rather than bring them home? Yes it has. But if we truly want to level the educational playing field and have all students able to access curriculum work, manipulate content and participate in collaborative forums and work that extends the school day, students need access to this tool to maximize this experience. the most successful laptop implementations allow students to bring the laptop home.

What are the consequences for using the laptop as a social tool?

What about remedial typing training? I don’t think my son types quickly enough to take good notes on a computer right now.

We know the teachers @ the middle schools are enthusiastic to do this, but are the High School teachers embracing the technology?

8th grade students will be the guinea pigs next year and then implement @ the High School in 12-13. What happens to the 8th graders in 12-13? Is this a one shot deal for 8th graders? It is our intention to keep laptops in the hands of students grades 8-12.

How are you measuring the teachers’ readiness, eagerness and capabilities? Using a baseline assessment given earlier in the year and teacher self-assessments using a coordinated skills checklist, we have provided necessary professional development. In addition, teachers were invited to serve on the steering committee for the project and have overwhelmingly been the energy and drive behind the project.

Computer bags? come with the laptop! Children must use them to transport the computer to and from school. Not doing so and damaging the laptop voids the warranty.

Protection in school environment (kids @ gym, lunch or after school)?
Locked charing stations have been purchased for students to lock the laptops in during lunch, PE and in homerooms.

Can we install printer drivers, etc.? Yes, you can install printer drivers.

What subjects will be covered using the laptops? All save PE, band and chorus.

How much time during school will they be logged on? This will vary from day to day depending on the lesson and the products upon which they work.

How do you make sure the students are working on class work on the laptop?

Will textbooks be online? Some will and some will not depending on the current edition’s online companion. Textbook market is evolving rapidly.

Has any research or concern gone into the health risks such as EMF exposure? How will it be monitored? We are aware of such risks, but such risks are currently rated in the low category comparable to that of microwave ovens. We will not be monitoring this aspect.

8 comments

  1. How will you assess the success of this program? MCAS, grades, specifically what improvement are you looking to see?


    • We will be tracking 1. engagement levels (we have an internal walk-through measure for this through teacher evaluation) 2. Discipline records 3. scores on common assessments (particularly writing) and 4. we always look at MCAS.

      We will also be looking to see a shift in teaching practice in terms of content delivery and an increase in projects that force students to use higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking Skills –more creating, collaborating, communicating, evaluating, critical analysis. This will also be tracked through classroom walk-through checklists and curriculum mapping.


      • Thank you for the above information. At Monday’s 1:1 inititative meeting, Dr. Sanchioni said that other school systems have seen an increase in SAT scores, could you pass on the article or site I could reference about that increase? I would also love to see any of the research about students’ academic growth through laptops that led to this 1:1 initiative decision.
        My apologies if this information is already on the site, I may have missed it.
        Thank you


  2. Just to save you time, I did find the “research” section and the article about Maine’s writing scores increasing. I still could not find the SAT information.
    Thank you


  3. Is there a search function on this site (digital conversion & related postings)? If not, could one be added?


  4. Hi,

    The FAQ indicates that we can install printer drivers but the OSX requires an administrator password to add a printer.

    Can you update the FAQ with instructions on how to add a printer?

    Thanks.



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