Computers in Private School

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Computers in Private School
Some schools require you to purchase a laptop as part of their book fee. Others let you bring your own computer.
Schools handle student computing in a variety of ways. Some schools require you to purchase a laptop or tablet as part of their supplies or book fees. Others supply computers for their students. Still others have computers in classrooms and libraries for their students to use. What's going on here? Can't I just go online and buy the laptop I want? Generally speaking the answer is  "No!"

That's because schools try to standardize the kind of laptop used. It makes support and configuration issues much, much easier for the IT staff.

For example, here's what The Hotchkiss School has to say about the issue: 

"Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, The Hotchkiss School will issue Macbook computers to all incoming Preps and Lower Mids. Returning Lower Mids will be re-issued the same computer they used the previous school year. Each student will use the computer during the school year throughout his or her career at Hotchkiss. "

Handheld devices such as iPads and Android tablets are permitted in many schools. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) makes great sense on so many levels because the devices are so common and relatively inexpensive. Indeed handhelds are rapidly replacing desktop computers as one can see from declining desktop sales.

Integrating a variety of handheld devices into the classroom presents a variety of challenges for most schools. First off, the network environment has to be secure. That requires significant expenditures on the backend to ensure that every member of the community has reliable, high-speed access both to the Internet and to internal databases.

The second challenge is wireless. In 2005 you could get away with a modest wired network linking classrooms and computers in public areas such as libraries and in student dorms. In 2013 wireless has all but replaced the older wired networks. Wireless mesh networks allow handheld devices to be used any time, anywhere which is what both faculty and students expect.

The third challenge is security. Most private schools have comprehensive Acceptable Use policies which cover everything from downloading pirated materials and accessing pornography and so on. Peddie School puts it succinctly:
"Page two of the Student Handbook describes the Major School Rules, including:
  1. We expect you to have consideration for the personal and material rights of others. In other words, bullying others, destroying property, and stealing from others are totally unacceptable behaviors.
  2. We expect you to be honest with others in what you do and say."
Computing in private schools in the second decade of the 21st century is changing at warp speed. Most schools are adapting to the changing computing environment and implementing the necessary upgrades in infrastructure to accommodate the new ways of using technology in their communities.

Certain kinds of private schools tend to downplay the significance of computers in education. The Waldorf or Steiner schools, for example, as well as the classical Christian schools focus on traditional core subjects and minimize the importance of technology in the classroom. That may seem a bit out of step with the times, but that is the essence of a private school. It can follow its own teaching methods, philosophy and curriculum. If you don't agree with these, you have other private schools which can meet your child's needs. It's that simple!

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