What Devices Are Students Bringing To School?

With Week 3 completed at St Andrew’s College, classes are settling into routines, most problems are resolved from an ICT perspective, and it is a chance to reflect on a few things. One area of particular interest to me is this: just what devices are students actually bringing to St Andrew’s and connecting to the wireless network.

Analysing this is important because one of the key decisions that was made in 2013 was to allow students a degree of choice in what their primary device would be in the classroom. As a College, we partnered with Cyclone Computers and created a list of recommended models, but the underlying principal was this: students had to bring a device with a “full operating” system on it. By this we meant Windows 7 or 8, or on an Apple device, OS X.

The thinking behind this was quite simple: if a student had a full operating system, then most compatibility issues could be overcome, they could all run MS Office (especially important, since it is now free to all our students), and critically, teachers could plan with confidence that the activities they wanted to do in class would be supported by the devices the students had (by inference we were ruling out stripped down operating systems like iOS, Android, ChromeOS etc).

Additionally, the thinking was that if students had choice in the device they could bring, this would increase their sense of ownership and proficiency in using their laptop as well.

Using the new reporting tools from CloudPath (the company whose software we use to onboard devices to our wireless network and issue certificates) an overview of devices registered in the last month is quite informative:

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Devices by Type (Laptop / Mobile / Tablet)

What is interesting here is the high number of mobile devices, and the almost complete domination of Apple iPad’s in the Tablet sector. Some caveats exist however, some versions of Google’s Android software have difficulty with EAP-TLS authentication, as does Window’s Phone8, meaning we have tended to connect these devices via WPA2-PSK, instead of onboarding via Cloudpath.

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Devices by Manufacturer

Again, the popularity of Apple’s iPhone is apparent in the very high numbers of Apple products, and somewhat alarming, is the presence of Windows XP devices (despite it becoming End of Life very shortly).

From an ICT perspective, supporting a range of different devices can have it’s challenges. Having visibility like this about the devices our students and staff are bringing to the campus means we can target what resourcing is required within the ICT Department and where we may need to provide additional training and professional development to the ICT support team.

Recording the Learning – for now and later

Today’s blog post will explore how science teacher Mr Matt Nicoll has implemented class blogs to record key learning moments that his students can refer back to at anytime.

mniAlready a regular blogger over here, Mr Nicoll started to explore what impact it might have for his students if there was a class blog targeted directly at them, recording their key notes and concepts. His rationale was surprisingly simple:

If students knew they had full access to correct and accurate notes, they would spend less time copying, more time listening to crucial explanations and demonstrations, which would lead into greater focus and accuracy when they conducted their own experiments.

One of the class blogs he is most happy with is the one for his Yr11 Level 1 Science class. When we sat down together to talk about his classroom blogs, Mr Nicoll made the pleasant realisation that the last few entries had been made by his students who were creating collaborative study notes from the lessons. Continue reading