SMCHS Educational Technology Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Get fast answers to some of the frequently asked questions about Educational Technology at SMCHS.

One-to-One

What is included in the SMCHS One-to-One Tablet PC Program?

  • A dynamic curricular experience.
  • Use of a state-of-the-art Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga (see configuration below).
  • Tablet sleeve
  • Access to spare tablets for quick exchanges.
  • Spare parts (battery, power cords, and styluses).
  • Latest Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, Publisher, Outlook, etc.).
  • Classroom management and collaboration software (DyKnow).
  • Antivirus protection.
  • Learning Portal Online Learning Management System.
  • Onsite repairs at the SMCHS Tech Service Center.
  • Accidental Damage Protection.
  • Warranty.
  • Onsite technical support.
  • Wireless network access in every classroom with technical support.
  • Fast internet connectivity.
  • Internet Content Filtering.
  • Upgraded robust infrastructure, storage, and security.
  • Extensive faculty training on the use of the program.
  • Student training on the use of the program.

What is the cost of the program?

  • After working tirelessly with our vendors, we are very excited to announce that we have been able to lower the program fee to $685 per year, per student! You will find that this is well below the program fee at most schools with a One-to-One Program which is typically between $800-$1000 per year.
  • The price that the school is charging is for the program, not the Tablet PC. The Tablet PC is a critical and significant portion of this cost. With this in mind, the school solicited competitive bids in an effort to minimize the financial requirements of the program. The prices that the school has obtained cannot be found in any retail sale arrangement, as the entire package of hardware, software, warranties, accidental damage insurance, onsite support, spare units, etc. cost much more than any individual purchase. However, families will benefit from the school’s ability to obtain educational discounts on hardware and software, as well as bulk purchasing discounts.
  • The technology fee will be billed according to the tuition payment plan selected by each family (annual, semi-annual, and 10-month). The Annual payment is due on July 1, 2014, the Semi-Annual payments are due July 1, 2014 and January 1, 2015, the 10-month payment plan begins in July and concludes in April, the 10-month payment plan is paid by direct debit/EFT only.

Who owns the Tablet PC?

  • The school owns the tablet, as well as all software included in the tablet.  However, we anticipate an option that will allow students to purchase their Tablet PC following their graduation.

What is the tablet's configuration?

  • Ten-Finger Multitouch screen
  • Intel Core i5 or more
  • Windows 8.1 64-bit
  • 12.5” FHD Display
  • 4GB Memory base
  • 128GB Solid State Drive base

Why aren't students allowed to bring their own laptops?

  • In order for this program to succeed, a specific hardware and software configuration must exist on the students’ computers. It would be impractical for the school to manage the variety of computers that the students might bring to school, and attempt to keep them up to date, and protected. In addition, the teachers will have a very hard time interacting with and instructing the students when there are no uniform tools and programs with which they need to access content.  The success of the program depends on hardware/software simplification and unification in order for the teachers and students to focus on their curricular objectives, instead of dealing with technical issues due to incompatibilities and variations.
  • The SMCHS IT Department cannot support and repair a tablet that the school does not own; we cannot install school owned software on a personal computer and we cannot ensure that a personal laptop or tablet would have the features needed in each classroom.

Can I buy the Tablet PC on my own? I found a better price somewhere else?

  • The price that the school is charging is for the program, not the Tablet PC. The Tablet PC is a critical and significant portion of this cost. With this in mind, the school has solicited competitive bids in an effort to minimize the financial requirements of the program. The prices that the school has obtained cannot be found in any retail sale arrangement, as the entire package of hardware, software, warranties, accidental damage insurance, onsite support, spare units, etc. cost much more than any individual purchase. However, families will benefit from the school’s ability to obtain educational discounts on hardware and software, as well as bulk purchasing discounts.

Will I keep the same tablet each year?

  • Yes. It is our plan for each student to use the same Tablet PC for all four years. New tablets will be distributed at the 9th grade levels only.  However, SMCHS reserves the right to issue a different computer to a student when it is deemed to be necessary and appropriate.

When did the program start?

  • The program started the 2012-2013 school year with selected faculty receiving a tablet PC and undergoing training.
  • SMCHS strongly believes in the educational value of this program and we plan to extend the program to the entire school by the start of the 2014-2015 scool year.
  • As of the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic school year, every member of our faculty has received a tablet PC, and is participating in extensive training with the device and all related software programs.

I am concerned about the small screen.

  • Most of the Tablet PCs come with a standard screen that has been proven practical in educational and business environments.  A bigger screen will add weight and size to the device, as well as shorten the battery life. Portability and a small footprint is very important in a classroom application. At home, if necessary, you can always attach a bigger external monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

How are the students going to save and back up their work?

  • We provide Office365 accounts for all students, and this includes access to OneDrive for Business digital cloud storage. We recommend that all students save their work to the OneDrive so that, should anything happen to their tablet that renders the tablet unusable, students can easily access all their data from any device. Essentially, saving work to OneDrive means that it will be extremely difficult for any data loss to occur. Of course, students may also save or backup any files locally to the tablet’s local drive or to a USB flash drive. It is the student’s responsibility to back up all his/her files as needed, and the school is not responsible for loss of student data.

Are the tablets going to be labeled?

  • Yes. The tablets will have external labeling with a bar code and ID number that will confidentially correspond with the student’s name and graduation year. There will also be internal labeling for identification on the school’s network. Additionally, all power cords are labeled to correspond with labeling on the tablet.

Are the teachers ready for this program?

  • Our faculty has been implementing technology in the classroom for many years. They were introduced to their Tablet PCs in 2013 and have had training in the various software programs and systems on a weekly basis. We originally introduced the Learning Portal in 2011 and we have already engaged our faculty in numerous DyKnow (One-To-One classroom management program) training sessions. In addition, SMCHS hired a Director of Instructional Technology who is dedicated to training our skilled faculty to ensure that they are ready for this program.

How much classroom usage do you anticipate in the first year?

  • Our goal is to use the tablets on a regular basis throughout the curriculum and expand the program continually.
  • We are aware that not all subjects and curricular objectives render themselves practical for the use of the One-to-One Tablet PC Program. The program will be constantly reevaluated in order to improve its efficacy and practicality.

How are the students going to be trained in the use of the tablets and associated software?

  • SMCHS will offer tablet PC training to our students on July 22, 29, 31, and August 5, 7, and 12. These training sessions will coincide with tablet distribution. We expect that our students will adapt very easily to this technology, and we are structuring our training program to reflect their level of competency.

How do I know that my student will not just play games or chat on the computer during class?

  • Besides our internet/network monitoring programs, teachers will have the ability to monitor and control student use of the Tablet PCs in the classroom with a program called ClassPolicy. This software allows teachers to ensure classroom diligence, prevent students from accessing distracting content and programs, and to have students share their work with the class. In addition, the teacher may allow only certain applications to run on the students’ tablets during any given class period.

What is covered by the Accidental Damage Insurance?

  • The school is purchasing an accidental damage protection service which covers some repairs and replacements for tablets damaged by accidents (see below). It is a cost-efficient service solution that helps reduce downtime and saves considerable cost in repairs. With accidental damage protection service, we can accurately predict and budget service costs for future years.
  • Accidental damage protection service for tablets usually cover the following:
    • Drops, liquid spills, electrical surges and damage to the LCD screen.
    • Accidental damage incurred at home, at school, and in transit.
    • Full coverage for extensive repair (multiple repairs if needed) or replacement of your notebook.
  • Accidental Damage Protection Service however does NOT cover theft or loss, damage due to fire, acts of God, intentional damage or gross negligence, use in unsuitable operating environment. Students and their families are financially responsible for any damage done to loaner tablets.

How did SMCHS choose the students' device given the number of options currently on the market?

  • SMCHS took all tablet devices into consideration prior to choosing a device for our students. Our device decision was based on extensive research and analysis to ensure that we have the device that will work best with our curriculum.

How long has the school investigated the feasibility and the benefits of such a program?

  • SMCHS started researching One-to-One Student Laptop programs back in the year 2010. Since then we have visited numerous schools that have successfully implemented such programs, consulted various experts in the area of educational technology, contacted a variety of vendors, and tested dozens of products. In addition, the school started investing heavily in preparing its infrastructure, data services, IT personnel, faculty training programs, etc. so that we feel prepared for the final staging of the program. This program is a natural extension of the technology in the classroom that SMCHS has been pioneering for years.

Can the students keep the tablets over the summer?

  • Yes, as long as your student is registered for the upcoming school year and your financial account is in current and good standing. The only exception will be if we need the students’ tablets for software installations or re-imaging. In this case, they will need to leave them with our IT department for a few days.

When are the tablets going to be distributed to the students?

  • This summer, we have set aside 6 dates for students to come pick up their Tablet PC at SMCHS: July 22, 29, 31, August 5, 7, and 12. When they arrive on the day they have selected, they will pick up their device and then be directed immediately into a training session where our staff will train them on the basics of the machine and a few of the most popular software packages they will use. There will be two training sessions per day, 8-11 a.m. and 12:30-3:30 p.m. It is mandatory for each student to attend one of the training sessions and attendance will be taken by our staff. Look for information regarding registration for these dates in the very near future.

Does the school have adequate technical support for such a program?

  • SMCHS currently employs a highly competent IT department with decades of collective experience in managing and maintaining systems at an educational institution. The school is committed to providing any additional technical support necessary in order to make this program a success for the benefit of our students.

Can the school provide adequate infrastructure to support this program?

  • SMCHS has been upgraded its infrastructure with this project in mind. We have stress tested our infrastructure simulating this program’s conditions and are confident in our ability to support the program.

What is DyKnow?

  • DyKnow consists of the following two modules:
    • DyKnow Vision software is an interactive teaching tool used to maximize class time, foster collaborative learning and promote effective studying. Features include: Collaborative note-taking, student response tools, class capture, anywhere, anytime access.
    • DyKnow Monitor software allows teachers to maintain control of the digital classroom and fosters responsible computer use. Features include: Thumbnail views of student screens, application blocking/URL filtering, remote control of student computers, central-server design which allows monitoring of hundreds of computers.

Will the tablets have CD-DVD players/burners?

  • No. The cost of these additional devices and the added weight does not justify the benefit. A USB drive will provide better and cheaper functionality. In addition, many manufactures’ provide a docking station that provide the same functionality if so desired.

Are the students responsible for backing up their personal data?

  • Yes. SMCHS cannot warranty any data that students save on their local drives. In addition, any time the tablet is brought to the tech center for repair, all data might be deleted, if we need to reinstall the entire computer’s image. Students should backup daily on some type of external media, such as USB drives, or in the “cloud”, and verify their backups. Students will be instructed on how to back up their files on external media.

What operating system will be on the tablets?

  • The Tablet PC’s will have Windows 8.1 with the most recent updates.

Who will be applying various software patches and upgrades to the tablets?

  • The SMCHS IT Department will periodically apply automatic software patches and upgrades to all tablets while they are connected to the school’s network.

Why choose a Tablet PC over another device?

  • The simple answer is that the Tablet PC offers everything any other individual device on the market offers and more. Less expensive devices like iPads, Android based tablets, Kindles, and regular laptops will allow students to read, explore the internet, and email. A Tablet PC is a fully functioning computer capable of much more, such as creating and editing videos, graphics, and digitizing student writing.The Tablet PC is the tool of choice for anyone that wishes to draw anything like science diagrams, geometrical shapes, formulas, maps, or a family tree. OneNote, a software program that comes standard with most Tablet PC’s, allows students to organize and search their handwritten notes by keywords, terms or vocabulary, with ease. Gone are the days of seven different binders filled with unorganized notes and papers. OneNote allows this information to be organized and retrieved all in one convenient Tablet PC.

What kind of security is the school providing?

  • All Internet access is filtered by content filtering that checks for inappropriate content. All tablets will have installed antivirus software that will be automatically updated upon login into our network. In the classroom, DyKnow provides the teacher with monitoring capabilities of the students’ screens and computing actions, as well as granular control as to what the students can access or not.

Tablets for Transfer Students

  • All students transferring to SMCHS from other schools will receive the same generation tablet computer as the ones used by their classmates.

What can you tell me about the digital/online textbooks and resources?

    • Approximately 50-60% of the textbook and classroom resources will be in a digital format. Some of these will be “online” while others will be downloadable content (i.e. Kindle or PDF). Fees will vary depending on course schedule and required materials, and the Fees will be available in late Spring from the bookstore.

Will students still be able to use traditional paper books instead of e-books?

    • There will be several classes where e-book versions will be required for certain texts. However, in some classes a traditional paper book or an e-book may be allowed, although it will be up to the discretion of the teacher.

Will students be able to purchase their tablet after graduation?

    • Yes! This year, graduating seniors may purchase their device for $350 by going to www.smhs.org/tabletbuyback. After purchasing the device online, the student must return his or her device to the Technology Service Center by the end of the last week of school so that the device can be restored to factory settings. The tablet will be ready to be picked up soon after.

Blended Online Learning

What is Blended Online Learning?

      • “Blended learning combines online delivery of educational content with the best features of classroom interaction and live instruction to personalize learning, allow thoughtful reflection, and differentiate instruction from student to student across a diverse group of learners (iNACOL – International Association for K-12 Online Learning).”

Is there an added fee for the Blended Online Courses?

      • No. There is no additional fee for the Blended Online Learning Program.

Are Blended Online Courses Mandatory?

      • No. Blended Online Courses are all optional for Juniors and Seniors.

Who teaches the SMCHS’ blended online courses? Are they “outsourced” to a third party education company?

      • All courses in the SMCHS Blended Online Learning Program are taught and led by SMCHS faculty. They have all been trained in how to effectively teach a blended course, and are all adept at how to utilize SMCHS’ educational technology strategies to benefit students.

What are some benefits of Blended Online Learning?

      • Since the philosophy behind Blended Online Learning combines the best aspects of online and digital media consumption with the tradition of the face-to-face classroom session, students will more greatly benefit from a comprehensive educational strategy that will directly cater to the students’ preferred styles of learning. It will also enhance students’ scheduling capabilities, as students can take a blended course that they may otherwise not have had room for in their schedules.

Will a Blended Online Course help prepare students for college?

      • Absolutely. Top universities in the UC System, as well as USC, Notre Dame, Duke, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, MIT, ASU, Santa Clara, and many more already have established blended online programs. Even the companies in the professional world use a blended learning strategy for employee training and competency. The Blended Online Learning Program at SMCHS will ensure that students are better prepared for the rigors of a successful college career, as well as begin the process of readying them for success in the post-graduate and professional worlds of the 21st century.

How will the Blended Online Learning Program work at SMCHS?

      • Our online courses are “Blended” courses – meaning students will have a mandatory minimum number of face-to-face meetings (at least an Orientation, and all Major exams, possibly review and labs). The remaining face-to-face meetings will be based on each teacher’s discretion and outlined in the course syllabus. Most courses will meet at least once a week.
      • Students will have access to their online teachers regularly. Their teacher is here for office hours on a regular basis.
      • Students can learn anywhere at any time, based on their schedule.
      • Blended courses have shown that they are one of the most effective learning styles (even more than traditional classes).
      • We will place each student in a blended online course “Lottery Style”
      • We will randomly select students by shuffling all the scheduling forms and selecting one sheet at a time.
      • Those that are chosen will be placed in an online course based on availability and preference as students indicate on the scheduling forms in the ranked online course section.

1st block will be frozen and set as the online course if students receive one (zero period). If students are not required to attend a face-to-face meeting (not orientation, testing, or a scheduled meeting day) they will be able to sleep in during the 1st block.

Is a blended course right for my Student?

      • Many blended online students really like the flexible scheduling and the degree of control they have over their own learning when taking a blended online course. It is important to note that blended online courses are typically just as demanding as traditional courses, online does not mean “easy”.
      • Things to consider before signing up for a blended online course:
        • Students should have regular computer and internet access.
        • Students should have a basic knowledge of how to use a computer–including email, word processing, and internet use.
        • Students need to be able to dedicate an average of 5-7 hours a week studying and/or reviewing their online course.
        • Students should be somewhat self-motivated and able to set schedules for themselves.
        • Students should have a willingness to actively participate in the course.

I do not like my student spending too much time in front of the computer. Will this be a problem in a blended online course?

      • SMCHS students will have the opportunity to take only one of their courses online. Even within the online course many activities are not actually performed online, but include reading books or other documents, homework assigned from the book, activities, and projects.