The iPad Revolution
What is the RGS Digital Learning Programme?
Each pupil has his or her own device, exclusively for their own use, available both at school and at home. In our case we have chosen to use iPads.
Why is RGS introducing a RGS Digital Learning Programme?
Compare the sails used on the recent 2013 America's Cup races, to those used just a decade ago. That mirrors the kind of technological advances we're making.
This initiative will enhance learning at RGS. By harnessing the technology appropriately, we will develop teaching, and in turn enhance learning, at RGS.
It is about giving teachers the opportunities to provide learning experiences for every single student that will engage, support and challenge them to perform to the very best of their ability. This initiative is not about iPads and the associated ecosystem per se, but rather the opportunities to both current and future generations of pupils at RGS.
Well trained and equipped staff, who can use and understand how to deploy this technology, will have at their disposal an increased set of tools to produce outstanding lessons. Putting iPads into the hands of our learners alone will not turn an average lesson into a good one, or necessarily increase the motivation, commitment or understanding in class of a learner, it will take more than that.
We want to empower our students to take control of their learning and to work in a more individualised way. Additionally, the opportunity to work collaboratively with other students, within school and beyond, has the potential to greatly enhance a child's understanding and educational progress.
We know that the most effective lessons are those where students receive highly personalised feedback and where the level of challenge is high for all students, so that they are self-motivated and develop as independent learners. The content must be engaging and any processing of information must be at a deep level. The Digital Learning Programme at RGS has that outcome at its core.
If you ask teachers what would make the biggest difference to student progress, they will say that it is the student's self-motivation, engagement and independent learning skills that will have the biggest impact on their success. A personal device offers new opportunities to motivate and engage students of all abilities.
Because currently they are the best tablet on the market to assist your child’s learning. Whilst the hardware is superior to competitor devices, it is in regard to the Operating System and ecosystem that Apple currently wins out.
An extensive comparison of alternative devices was undertaken and the iPad proved to be the best in every area. The framework Apple offers to teachers and learners is very attractive, for example in regard to iBooks Author and iTunes U. Apple's closed ecosystem, means that only certified Apps can be installed, giving some degree of confidence in the Apps to which students have access. Not only that but are research tells us iPads outnumber competitor devices in RGS homes by over 20 to 1.
Are all pupils involved?
Yes they are, but initially in slightly different ways, dependent upon their year group at RGS.
Effective September 2014, we will ask every pupil in Year Seven and in Year Twelve to attend School with an iPad. We will refer to these years as our Pioneer year groups. (PYG). In December 2014 we announced an extension to the DLP. From September 2015 it will be a requirement for all year groups from Year Five upwards, with the exception of Year Eleven to attend school daily with their iPad.
What if my son/daughter is not in a Pioneer Year Group, can s/he still bring in an iPad?
Yes, and we will encourage pupils to bring an iPad to school if they have one, from Year six upwards.
In time, all pupils, certainly at the Senior School, will attend with an iPad. However we feel it prudent to adopt a phased introduction to allow our teachers sufficient time to learn how best to harness the technology and adapt their teaching styles, as well as their teaching resources. We will learn along with our Pioneer Year Groups and adapt and improve still further.
How will this initiative be funded? How do we pay for it?
We have looked very carefully at the various funding models, as well as having surveyed our pupils to establish what technology they already have available to them.
We are proposing that parents provision their son/daughter with an iPad themselves. Each pupil attends school with their own iPad, just as they might a calculator or a cricket bat. Parents choose which iPad to buy and where to buy it from. RGS will not insist a particular supplier is used.
As has been the case for the past three years, RGS has pre-negotiated preferential rates with the local Apple Premium Reseller, which includes insurance. We strongly recommend parents ensure iPads are ensured to guard against screen breakage, loss and theft.
Should parents wish to take advantage of this opportunity they can purchase iPads over the phone, and they will be delivered to RGS for collection. The nearest store to visit is in Broad Street, Worcester. However, parents are free to source the iPad from wherever they wish.
If your child already has an iPad, there is no need to buy a new one.
How will iPads equip students with the skills they need for the future?
We want to give our students the life skills and understanding to be ahead of others in terms of employability. We have a duty of care to them and our role extends beyond ensuring that they pass exams.
Students at RGS need to leave us confident that they can safely navigate the wider world in which they live and will work. Universities and businesses are expecting students to be digitally literate and have an awareness of their personal digital footprint. Many employers will now study a person's online presence before deciding on whether to employ them.
We must ensure that we support parents in helping our students understand the difference between what is public and what is private. Developing trustworthy individuals is extremely important. Many universities encourage students to use appropriate technology to support their studies and this practice is growing throughout academia. Many corporations are also looking at the ways in which new technologies can support them.
Why a personalised device for each student as opposed to a class set of iPads?
With every student having their own iPad, it means that they take ownership of the device and look after it, learn how to use it effectively and develop appropriate skills in its usage.
The link between home and school learning means that projects can take on much greater depth and not be restrained by the 60 minutes in the classroom that are available to work on them. Parents can play a greater part in supporting and understanding the work that students are doing in class. By carrying the iPad from lesson to lesson it is easy to develop cross - curricular projects: real data gathered in science can be analysed in maths for example.
Students' engagement and involvement in a subject can be fostered and will increase their levels of self-motivation. Providing more open ended homework tasks will greatly increase student motivation and effort levels. However, the presentation and peer-assessment of this work is often limited as they are produced electronically and have to be printed off or watched one at a time with the whole class. This would no longer be an issue if each student brought in their own device.
Class sets of these devices have proven to be less effective. Students have to spend time setting up their personal logins to email, apps etc. They also need to remove them before they are used with the next class.