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Technology @ MVAC

Why does my child need a device for school?

Handheld and portable technology is here to stay. It has become a crucial part of business and industry, is an effective tool for education and is present in the majority of homes around the country. Students need to graduate with the skills to use this tool effectively.

This page aims to address the most common questions parents have asked about MVAC’s technology programs.

The College provides a set of shared devices for students to access during school hours. These devices cannot be taken home. The College will continue to provide these devices for students who are not in a position to bring their own.

The full potential of handheld and portable devices is unlocked when students have access to their own personal device.

Q) What will students be using their device for?

A) Devices are a learning tool, like stationery or books. They can be used for all kinds of purposes. It is up to the classroom teacher to decide what tool is appropriate for any given task.

Portable technology has applications for every subject and every classroom, from building basic literacy and numeracy skills to enabling multi-user collaboration and independent research.

Q) Will technology distract from building core skills?

A) Absolutely not. We promote a strong focus on core literacy and numeracy in line with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) guidelines. We also promote a balanced use of technology both in and out of the classroom.

Q) What about the negative impacts of too much ‘screen time’?

A) MVAC promotes healthy habits with regards to using technology. Our ‘Acceptable Use’ Policy for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) forbids the use of personal devices in the playground and limits the use of devices in the classroom at the discretion of the classroom teacher.

We recommend that parents approach computers, tablets and smartphones in the home in the same way as they approach movies, television and video games. Consider setting time limits and usage guidelines to find a balance that works for your family.

Q) Why start the 1:1 Technology program as early as Year 3?

A) The current generation are being labelled ‘digital natives’, in that their use of technology is natural and intuitive.

Children as young as Kindergarten and preschool are being increasingly exposed to these devices. We aim to teach children how to use technology in a way which is healthy, productive and safe.

As they enter Stage 2 (Years 3 & 4) taking care of their own personal device helps to foster respect for property and teaches personal responsibility. 

Q) Who is responsible if my child’s device is lost or broken?

A) In line with the College’s policies covering property and damage, students are responsible for the safety and security of their own possessions, including any instance in which they have loaned them to another student. Any instance of willful or malicious damage will be handled within the College’s Discipline Policy.

The College strongly recommends that devices be fitted with protective cases and screen protectors at minimum. We also recommend that parents purchase damage and theft insurance.

Q) Why use a different device in Junior and Senior School?

A) Junior students require a device which is lightweight, easily transported and tactile, making tablets an ideal choice. In Senior School, students will require something which is a little more robust, particularly as they begin assessments requiring them to type and format documents and presentations.

In the first few years of this program, it is unreasonable to insist that parents replace functioning, near-new devices. In Years 7 & 8, students will be able to continue using their tablet until such time as it no longer suits their needs.

Based on current technology, students who begin with a tablet in Year 3 will likely find it has reached the end of its life expectancy and is due to be replaced by the time they enter Senior School.

Q) Why Apple devices?

A) For four key reasons:

    1. Apple devices are designed for ease of use and require minimal setup.
    2. Apple devices meet the software and hardware requirements of the MVAC network and any programs / apps required for classroom use.
    3. Newer Apple devices (less than 3-5 years old depending on model) are capable of sharing files between one another without any additional hardware or cabling, and can interact with the Apple TV resources used in a most rooms around the school.
    4. Having students and staff use a common platform enables them to assist one another with technical issues.
Q) Why not Android / Windows devices?

A) Android and Windows devices present consumers with a great deal of choice. They also vary greatly in hardware quality, specs and price, making them attractive to families as devices for their children.While many of these devices meet the requirements of MVAC’s 1:1 Technology program, many do not. The variety of Android and Windows based devices on the market – each with their own positives and negatives – means it is impossible to guarantee that any given device outside those recommended by the College will be a suitable alternative. Speaking generally, ensuring the same level of functionality from an Android or Windows device when compared to an Apple device requires consumers to spend a comparable amount of money.

Q) Why would my Android / Windows device not be suitable?

A) With Android and Windows-based devices, hardware and software varies greatly between manufacturers and even different generations of the same device.

Students bringing their own Android or Windows device may find that it is not as powerful or as reliable as others, that its battery does not last as long, or that it is lacking functions needed for certain tasks.

They may also find that the range of functions and settings is different from other devices, meaning that tricks and tips do not apply equally. This can limit the ability of students and staff to assist one another.

For older students, who are more familiar with the quirks of their particular device and are able to troubleshoot or work around any issues they encounter, this may not be a problem.

At this stage we welcome students to trial an existing Android or Windows based device as part of this program. However, students wishing to do so will be responsible for their own troubleshooting and maintenance. Limited support may be available connecting the device to the network.

Q) Why does the College not supply a device for students?

A) Very few schools are in a position to supply students with a personal device. Almost all devices which are provided as part of a 1:1 program are provided through conditional government funding, including those devices currently owned and used by the College.

Bring-Your-Own-Device programs are the preferred model in a variety of Public, Catholic and Independent schools which are adopting 1:1 programs.

Q) Why are devices not covered by our fees?

A) The College charges two types of fees: Tuition and Activities. These fees are allocated to the provision of teaching staff and activities, respectively. Like conditional government funding, parent contributions can only be used for the purpose they were collected.

At this time, ICT represents a tiny fraction of our operating budget, most of which is allocated to developing and maintaining our network infrastructure – the system of servers and wireless access which make the 1:1 Technology and BYOD program possible. None of this money comes from parents’ fees.

Capital expenditure – the purchase of new infrastructure and resources – with regards to end-user devices such as tablets and laptops is almost always made possible through conditional government funding resulting from fiercely contested grants. This is the case across all but a handful of schools.

Q) How would the College go about providing a device?

A) The only way to offer a device to students would be through introducing an additional levy covering the costs association with its provision.
Given that such a levy would need to cover purchase, insurance, wear and tear and the human cost of maintaining the devices – which would remain the property of the College – it is more economical to require parents to purchase their own device outright and retain ownership throughout its operational life.

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