Laptops help promote a positive shift toward more project-based, hands-on learning.
RCDS started its one-to-one computer program in 1999. The over-riding goal of the program has always been to make the information processing power of the computer available to students whenever and wherever needed. This does not mean that laptops are or should be used all the time. Instead it means that computers will be available when there is a benefit to be gained from their use. This approach is essentially no different from how pencils and paper have been deployed in schools. Pencils and paper are not used all the time, but we want them to be immediately accessible at all times.
Schools that help their students and teachers harness the information processing power of laptop computers will place their students at a competitive advantage. Students will be more engaged in learning the content of the curriculum, while at the same time developing deep competency using the problem-solving environment provided by the computer.
Director of Informational Technology
The Information Technology Department develops, implements, manages, and supports the School's information technology infrastructure. Infrastructure is broadly defined here to include the School's network, servers, and services accessed through the network; user computers (including student laptops); and peripheral devices such as printers, digital cameras, SmartBoards, and projectors.
The Information Technology Department's overall goal is to support the effective and efficient use of digital technology in the education process at RCDS. To achieve this goal, the IT Department works with all school departments to help ensure that present IT needs are met, developing IT needs are supported, and future IT needs are anticipated. The IT Department works closely with the Computer Department to provide training to both faculty and students in the use of information technology.
Information Technology continues to develop at a very rapid pace. The role of the IT Department will evolve apace to match the changing nature and patterns of IT use in the School.
Storage and Access
Laptops provide easy storage and access to a student's accumulating body of work. By viewing previous work, students can better gauge their own progress and avoid repeating tasks already accomplished.
Writing is emphasized across the curriculum. Word processing makes writing a significantly more enjoyable process for students. Students do more writing and revision when they have laptops.
Education is made richer and more engaging with the aid of software tools like spreadsheets, Geometer's SketchPad, and Mathematica.
History and Social Studies
Education is enriched by students having immediate access to the vast wealth of information available on the Internet. Laptops provide a platform for the creation and presentation of multimedia-rich projects.
Education is greatly enhanced by the data gathering, data analysis and simulation software tools that run within the virtual digital laboratory the laptop provides.
Educational success correlates strongly with the time students are able to spend in immersive environments. The multimedia capabilities of laptops allow students to spend more time listening and speaking in the language of instruction. With the right software and a set of headphones, a laptop can function like a language lab work station. Laptops also provide access, through the Internet, to the media of the countries where the language of instruction is the native language.
In Art, Music and Drama
Laptops provide easy access to examples of best practices. Students visit virtual museums, listen to music clips, and watch videos of great performances. Students also use various applications to assist in the creation of artwork, music, scripts, and videos.
- Do all the RCDS computer systems work equally well with Windows and Apple computers?
- What percentage of students opt for Apple computers?
- Are RCDS faculty able to teach effectively with students having both Windows and Apple computers?
- Are the Apple laptops able to run Windows based programs?
- How will the notebook computers connect to the school’s wireless network?
- How will the notebook computers connect to home networks?
- What about insurance for the computers?
- What about the video camera built into the laptops?
- What about battery life?
- What about the hard drive?
- What about the speed of the computers?
- What about backing up files?
- What about printing?
Yes, the differences between Windows and Mac OS X have become relatively minor as Microsoft and Apple have copied the best features of each other’s operating systems.
All the applications that the School is using have versions for Windows and Macintosh computers that are virtually identical. In addition, files move transparently back and forth between the platform-specific versions of these applications. For instance, a teacher can create a worksheet on a Windows notebook computer and save it to a server. Students with a laptop of either platform will then be able to download the file from the server and open it without any translation difficulty. Files can go back and forth between platforms, through multiple revisions, without any problems.
If need be, yes. The latest Apple laptops use Intel microprocessors and are capable of running Windows software natively. There are currently a number of options for doing this, all of which require owning a copy of Windows. However, as previously noted, all educational software used at RCDS is available for both Mac OS X and Windows.
The School is strongly recommending that all families have insurance that provides coverage for the laptops while they are at school and in transit to and from school. The Lenovo ThinkPad laptop we are recommending this year comes with a three-year accidental damage policy that will cover damage like screen breakage. Coverage for theft is not included in this policy. It is possible that your homeowner’s insurance will cover theft, but you should check with your insurance broker. For those purchasing non-Lenovo laptops, we recommend that you obtain a rider through your homeowner’s insurance or purchase laptop accidental damage / theft coverage from a company like Safeware (www.safeware.com) or Student Insurance Partners (www.studentinsurancepartners.com).
Parents should be aware that the video camera built into the laptops would support video conferencing when a laptop is connected to the Internet. Parents should also be aware that the camera would allow students to create movies of whatever they film with the camera. The presence of a built-in video camera raises new appropriate use issues, which parents need to think about and discuss with their children.
The Apple laptops have a battery that Apple claims will last about seven hours when new. The ThinkPad has a battery that Lenovo claims will last about six hours when new. Over time, all batteries slowly lose the ability to hold a full charge. Students are expected to plug in their laptops each night so that they will have a full battery charge for the next school day. Students whose computers run out of battery life during the school day will be able to plug their computers into outlets in the classrooms, provided they have brought their chargers to school.
The speed at which a computer performs operations is determined by a number of factors, the major ones being the processor design, the processor clock speed (GHz), and the size of the cache. The recommended ThinkPad and Apple laptops are fast enough to easily handle all the programs that students are likely to use for school.
Students are responsible for backing up their computer files. Both computers support a number of different backup options. Backups can be made to cloud based storage like Dropbox or Google Drive; the RCDS file server that is accessible from home and school; USB flash drives; DVDs or CD-ROMs; or external hard drives. It does not matter where or how files are backed up, just so long as they are backed up frequently.
Both the Apple laptops and the ThinkPads will be able to print to multiple networked printers at school. The ThinkPad has four USB ports and the built-in wireless and wired Ethernet ports to connect to printers at home. The Apple MacBook models have two USB ports and the built-in wireless to connect to home printers. Each of the laptops have Bluetooth wireless networking built in.