Frequently Asked Questions

Heathfield Digital Learning Scheme

If you cannot find the answer to your question below, please email ipads@heathfieldcc.co.uk and we will get back to you.

For a PDF version of the FAQs click here.

1. Do the iPads have to go home every night; does this present an unnecessary risk to younger students; what security is in place?

2. How much will this scheme cost?

3. What about parents who can’t afford to be part of the scheme?

4. Can’t I go and buy a cheaper computer on the High Street?

5. What happens if a child leaves the College before the end of the scheme?

6. What about students who already own an iPad?

7. What if an iPad is damaged, stops working or is stolen?

8. Why choose the iPad and not a cheaper device?

9. What if I have more than one child in this year group?

10. How will using the iPad impact on the quality of students’ hand writing?

11. Exams still take place on paper, so how will iPads help with this?

12. How will the Digital Learning Scheme affect homework?

13. How will you measure the impact of iPads on learning?

14. Will students spend all day staring at a screen?

15. Won’t it encourage lazy teaching?

16. Is 64Gb big enough?

17. Will students need access to home wifi to access the apps?

18. What can you do to stop other apps being used during a lesson?

19. Is my child’s work going to be backed up?

20. Will students be allowed to use iPads at breaks?

21. So, are we not allowed to install our own apps?

22. Do we need to give our bank details to register with Apple?

23. What standard apps will there be?

24. Will age controls (i.e. internet filtering) differ on home Wi-Fi?

25. If the apps are pre-loaded, how are these associated with an existing iTunes account?

26. What happens if my child accidentally deletes a College app?

27. Are the iPads new or reconditioned?

28. Do students need to carry the iPad in addition to all other text/exercise books?

29. Can students choose the iPad mini instead?

30. How will children differentiate their iPad from others at College?

31. What colour are the iPads?

32. Can I make one payment at the start of the scheme?

33. I regularly update my iPad on my iMac. How will this work for students?

34. How will backups work?

35. What about recent studies blaming gadget usage for eyesight damage?

36. Will this restrict my child from experiencing other operating systems?

37. Do students find the keyboard sufficient?

 

1. Do the iPads have to go home every night; does this present an unnecessary risk to younger students; what security is in place?

iPads that are issued to students as part of the digital learning scheme must be taken home every night.

We currently have almost a thousand devices and privately owned smart phones connected to our system and almost no report of anxiety over theft or threats to take possession. Few Colleges with similar schemes report theft as being a problem, however, we would not wish to be complacent and our advice to all students would be to hand the iPad over if they are challenged and immediately report the incident to a member of College staff. We take student security very seriously and we will ask the police to investigate all such incidents. The iPad can be remotely tracked by our Mobile Device Management software and it is insured against theft (where a police crime number is issued). College work should be backed up and also stored on the College’s collaboration server where it is safe. In addition, families should consider Apple iCloud for backing up personal settings and material.

Student lockers are sufficiently large to accommodate an iPad during the day if necessary; however, students should not leave iPads in lockers overnight. Secure storage is provided in the Gym PE changing rooms for use during PE lessons.

At the end of the scheme we will maintain a record of the iPad serial number and we will ensure that the iPad makes its way back to you should it be stolen and returned to the College.  We will register all the iPads loaned out by us through the scheme on our data base and on the Totalcare website. The exception will be the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) iPads not obtained through us and purchased separately by families.

2. How much will this scheme cost?

The cost of the scheme including the lease of an iPad over 5 years is £16.50 per month. This currently covers an iPad Air 64Gb, a robust case, comprehensive insurance, a range of apps and all the services of Mobile Device Management software, including safeguarding. At the end of the 5 years you will own the iPad.

By buying iPads and apps in bulk, we can make some savings, which enables us  to subsidise the cost of the scheme to parents.

Heathfield is committed to making a significant financial contribution to ensure the success of this scheme. A new wireless network has been installed; a number of engaging and challenging online resources have been purchased or subscribed to. Staff continue to undergo a full training programme to ensure they can make best use of the learning opportunities provided by iPads. Heathfield is also committed to significantly subsidising the cost of the scheme year on year. We do not receive any Government funding for a scheme such as this, however, so need to ask parents to support us by making a contribution towards the running costs, so that the scheme can continue to run increasing the digital opportunity in the end to all students at the College.

We can only run this scheme if parents are prepared to contribute. While a small number of families in difficult circumstances can be accommodated, unless there is widespread support for the scheme, then the College will not be able to provide it. If you are interested in supporting the scheme, please encourage other parents to do so as well.

3. What about parents who can’t afford to be part of the scheme?

The fairest way, we believe, to identify parents who may not be in a position to afford to contribute to the scheme is if they have been on the Free School Meals Register at any time during the last six years. We are able to use Pupil Premium funds to enable them to join the scheme just like anyone else. Experience of earlier schemes has suggested it is important for students to have a sense of ownership and responsibility and therefore we are asking families to contribute £20 towards the cost of the case.

4. Can’t I go and buy a cheaper computer on the High Street?

We don’t believe you can buy this specification of iPad, the case, insurance and apps for anything like this cost (though other tablets may be cheaper).  But this isn’t just about the device. The Digital Learning Scheme we are proposing will provide the loan for three years of a device that we feel is ideal for the classroom – lightweight, portable, with a ten hour battery life and a range of outstanding apps that will allow learners to be far more creative, and interact to a greater extent than is possible now.

College-provided iPads will also have the benefit of fully comprehensive insurance. Data will be backed up on the College network, so in the event of damage, fault or theft, a replacement iPad will normally be available within a day, with all data and apps restored.

5. What happens if a child leaves the College before the end of the scheme?

The parents can either return the iPad or make a residual payment to keep it, determined by the market value and contributions already made at the time.

6. What about students who already own an iPad?

You can either choose to join the College scheme or bring your own iPad into College, providing it is an iPad Air or newer. The College will, for a small charge, install the same apps that will be on the College-owned iPads, as well as software to allow access to the College’s filtered wireless network and Mobile Device Management software.

Parents are responsible for insuring the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) iPad. We cannot take responsibility for home owned iPads and insurance for damage or theft will be the responsibility of the parent.

7. What if an iPad is damaged, stops working or is stolen?

We insist on the approved case being used at all times to minimise the chance of accidental damage. College-funded iPads are covered against accidental damage, theft and breakdown. A small number of swap out iPads will be available, pending repair or replacement.

8. Why choose the iPad and not a cheaper device?

The iPad emerged throughout the world as the tablet of choice for educationalists and, although there are competing claims for Android especially, it has the strongest foothold and is the most reliable of devices in the market.

The iPad puts the learning in the hands of the students like no other innovation in education and studies show they read and write more and enjoy the creative opportunities offered, all as a result of the engagement it generates. The iPad has enough charge to last a day at College. It can be picked up and switched on instantly and put down again without becoming too much of an event in itself in the lesson. It captures images; it connects to the world, communicates effortlessly and offers endless apps and solutions to learning contexts.

There is excellent educational support from Apple. Software can allow iPads to be finely controlled by Colleges, e.g. teachers can remotely disable the camera for their lesson if they feel it will be a distraction. Colleges receive a 50% discount on bulk purchases of apps, which can be deployed remotely without having to collect iPads in. The AppStore is much more highly regulated than the equivalent for other platforms. Apple has developed a range of innovative software that is set to revolutionise learning e.g. iBooks Author and iTunes U. Apple Distinguished Educators are available to train staff to get the best out of iPads. No other platform offers anything close to this.

9. What if I have more than one child in this year group?

We are able to offer a small discount if there are two or more students in the same family as we recognise the financial pressure this can cause.

10. How will using the iPad impact on the quality of students’ hand writing?

Students will still be expected to hand write work and also be able to complete extended pieces of writing. There will be no need to word process all their work and much will still be completed in exercise books. However, there are many advantages to word processing some work on the iPad using an app such as Pages. Students can spell check their work, look up definitions, add electronic notes and email work to their teacher for faster feedback. With work backed up on the College network, and available anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection, leaving an exercise book at home/College is no longer such a problem.

11. Exams still take place on paper, so how will iPads help with this?

Exams and practice papers can and will still be handwritten. Feedback from the teacher will be electronic in much the same way as exams are actually marked by exam boards. Some subjects use IT for controlled conditions assessments, and increasingly it appears possible to use iPads in exams where they can be ‘locked’ in an app, e.g. to prevent internet use, or to disable certain features can be disabled during the assessment.

12. How will the Digital Learning Scheme affect homework?

A device that can be used both at College and at home will improve continuity of learning, with all the resources needed available in one place. Parents can play a greater part in supporting and understanding the work that students are doing in class. We anticipate that homework tasks can have much greater depth and use a much wider range of media than conventional paper based homework. This is likely to improve students’ motivation and homework completion rates.

13. How will you measure the impact of iPads on learning?

We are confident that the impact of iPads on learning should be evident within a comparatively short space of time. A study carried out in May 2012 by the University of Hull measured the impact of introducing iPads to 8 Scottish Colleges, and found increases in student motivation, engagement and understanding of complex ideas: http://www2.hull.ac.uk/ifl/ipadresearchinColleges.aspx .

The Sutton Trust measured the impact of a range of strategies used by Colleges to improve student performance and found, on average, that personal use of IT produced learning gains of around 4 months a year: http://www.suttontrust.com/research/teaching-and-learning-toolkit-july-2012

After 2 years of use our own analysis shows this has a significant impact. Our Attitude to Learning data shows a significant improvement and our progress data shows KS3 students making better progress than was the case previously. These could of course be attributable to a range of factors but the pedagogical and curriculum conversations that happen around the iPads are strong contributing factors.

14. Will students spend all day staring at a screen?

In most lessons, iPads will only be used as and when needed, and in some lessons may not be used at all if they don’t enhance the learning in that topic. In other lessons, the iPad may be used for the starter or the plenary, or for a few minutes of internet research. iPad use will not replace the good teaching that already occurs, but will supplement it as and when appropriate.

An Ofcom survey in 2012 found that, on average, 12-15 year olds spend 17.1 hours online a week. With purposeful use of the iPad for learning, some of this online time may become more productive!

15. Won’t it encourage lazy teaching?

The same amount or more time will be spent planning lessons using iPads. The skills of classroom management, time management, assessment, questioning and motivation of students will be just as necessary as in lessons where iPads are not used.

16. Is 64Gb big enough?

The apps provided by the College will take about 3.5Gb of memory. This should leave sufficient memory for students to store their own photos, music and apps, but they will need to ensure that they always leave enough space to be able to use their iPad as directed by their teacher. All work produced by the students should be stored on our servers and accessed through e-lockers and this will alleviate the need to store very much at all on the device itself.

17. Will students need access to home wifi to access the apps?

Most of the apps will work without access to Wi-Fi. When the apps are first downloaded, this will need to be done over Wi-Fi, either at home or at College.

18. What can you do to stop other apps being used during a lesson?

Effective classroom management is just as important as ever when iPads are used. Part of our behaviour management system is the encouragement of students to take responsibility for their own learning, and the vast majority do. The minority who don’t, and who choose to become distracted by the iPad, will be re-focussed by the teacher, and the some sanctions may need to be applied.

All social media apps and those not age appropriate are blocked by the schools systems, it will be a parental choice whether they are unblocked in time out of school.

19. Is my child’s work going to be backed up?

Yes. We will be encouraging students to back up their work on the College network. The same method will also be used to send work to teachers and collaborate with other students on a project. Personal data and settings should be also backed up by using a service such as Apple iCloud.

20. Will students be allowed to use iPads at breaks?

No, no mobile devices are able to be used at social time. The purpose of that time is exclusively for students to socialise and take part in clubs activities both informal and those facilitated by the college.

21. So, are we not allowed to install our own apps?

Yes, you can install anything you like on the iPad you obtain through the scheme or your own device, providing it is age-appropriate for the student, and providing there is sufficient memory available at all times for College work.

22. Do we need to give our bank details to register with Apple?

No. We will give you instructions on how to set up an Apple ID without having to enter your credit card details. If you want to buy your own apps, you will have to create a separate Apple ID with credit card details.

23. What standard apps will there be?

To date, we have identified approximately 20 apps that we feel are particularly valuable. This list is likely to grow, but we will not be asking parents for further payments.

24. Will age controls (i.e. internet filtering) differ on home Wi-Fi?

You will be given the choice of having the internet filtering on all the time or only whilst the iPad is in College.  If you opt to have filtering applied outside of College this will match the filtering the students get onsite and is updated multiple times a day.

25. If the apps are pre-loaded, how are these associated with an existing iTunes account?

The College uses a process provided by Apple called managed distribution to distribute apps.  This allows us to invite you to install apps provided by the College.  You will then be able to install these apps from the app store free of charge.

26. What happens if my child accidentally deletes a College app?

Our Mobile Device Management software will alert us to any changes such as a College app or a profile being deleted, and we can then make the necessary corrections, usually over the internet without having to have access to the iPad.

27. Are the iPads new or reconditioned?

The iPad you receive on joining the scheme is brand new.

28. Do students need to carry the iPad in addition to all other text/exercise books?

Yes. As always, it helps if parents/carers of younger students help their child pack their bag the night before, to ensure the necessary books and equipment are included for the following day. This task now includes ensuring the iPad is charged. Increasingly, we expect the load to diminish over time!

29. Can students choose the iPad mini instead?

No. We have tested the iPad mini in College and found it to be good for web searches but not necessarily suitable for all applications, particularly when extended word processing, photo manipulation or video editing is being undertaken, for apps such as iMovie and GarageBand which benefit from the larger screen of the iPad. We decided against offering the iPad mini for this reason.

30. How will children differentiate their iPad from others at College?

One of the first actions is for students to install a unique screen saver, either their name and form, or a copy of their timetable in order to be able to identify their own iPad.

31. What colour are the iPads?

There is a choice either Slate Grey which has a black front or Silver which has a white front.

32. Can I make one payment at the start of the scheme?

No, unfortunately this option is no longer available.

33. I regularly update my iPad on my iMac. How will this work for students?

All apps are pushed out by the College over the College or home Wi-Fi. Software updates such as a new iOS are dealt with in the same way. It is important that iPads are not connected to iTunes or a PC/Mac or the College’s settings may be lost. We recommend that regular backups are made to the iCloud and to the College network.

34. How will backups work?

As mentioned above, we strongly recommend the use of the iCloud for its ability to store and restore apps. Important files will be backed up by students onto the College network. This also allows access to files held on the network from home.

35. What about recent studies blaming gadget usage for eyesight damage?

Some research suggests a link between heavy screen use and eye fatigue. Given that iPads are not in use every lesson, and when used, they are seldom used for the whole lesson, this is not felt to be a significant problem. When using any screen (phone, laptop, iPad etc.) students should take a break every 20 minutes or so.

36. Will this restrict my child from experiencing other operating systems?

No. We continue to have over 450 Windows computers in College and over 100 Mac based computers.

37. Do students find the keyboard sufficient?

We have found no problems using the iPad keyboard in the last 2 years. It is possible to buy an inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard, though this will be one more thing to carry.