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Q

Do I need to supply my child with a computer?

A

Currently St. Mark’s School provides many public workstations your child may use for his academic needs. Nevertheless, many students bring their desktop or laptop computers with them. We provide high-speed Internet access right from their dorm rooms. Starting in the 2015-2016 school year St. Mark's will formally become a 'Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)' School - see below for more information.

Q

Why is St. Mark’s requiring students to have a laptop?

A

The School is formalizing what has become, in recent years, an implicit expectation, tobetter communicate to students and families the tools they need to be successful as St. Mark’s students. The vast majority of our students already have and use laptops to support their studies, as an irreplaceable research, writing and presentation tool in the early twenty-first century. The School is shifting from recommending to requiring laptops to ensure that all students have equitable access to the tools they need to pursue their studies. By ensuring that all students have comparable devices, the School will better support instruction in the classroom, allowing faculty to plan for predictable and reliable technological tools in the hands of students throughout the curriculum.

Q

Do you control my child’s Internet experience?

A

Students at St. Mark’s School are expected to behave in accordance with the rules and expectations as outlined in the Student Handbook. So, while the Technology Department does employ Internet filtering and regulates Internet access at times determined by the Deanof Students, the same code of conduct applies to Internet use.

Q

What if my child needs technical support?

A

The Technology staff provides limited desktop services for students. We will assist students in connecting to the Internet and our internal network and provide basic desktop troubleshooting services. For more complicated support issues, we will help the student find the appropriate resources, so their technical needs can be addressed.

Q

Are there specific applications my child needs on their computer?

A

Microsoft Office is used by the vast majority of faculty. In fact, during orientation, all incoming 3rd Formers are required to participate in training sessions on how to use MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Microsoft provides an academic version of their Office Suite at a discounted price to students. Visit an authorized Microsoft Reseller for more information. (http://www.microsoft.com/education/aerfind.aspx)

Q

Does my child have access to the internet all day?

A

Internet access is turned off completely from 11:00 PM until 6:00 AM.

Q

What kind of computer should I buy for my child?

A

While Windows-based computers are the preferred operating system, virtually any operating system will work on our network. You can bring either a desktop or a laptop. Laptops areconvenient to take advantage of the wireless hotspots available throughout the campus. Starting in the 2015-2016 school year St. Mark's will formally become a 'Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)' School.

2015-2016 Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) FAQ

Q

Why is St. Mark’s requiring students to have a laptop?

A

The School is formalizing what has become, in recent years, an implicit expectation, to better communicate to students and families the tools they need to be successful as St. Mark’s students. The vast majority of our students already have and use laptops to support their studies, as an irreplaceable research, writing and presentation tool in the early twenty-first century. The School is shifting from recommending to requiring laptops to ensure that all students have equitable access to the tools they need to pursue their studies. By ensuring that all students have comparable devices, the School will better support instruction in the classroom, allowing faculty to plan for predictable and reliable technological tools in the hands of students throughout the curriculum.

Q

Will every student need to have the same computer?

A

No. We are not issuing the same computer to all of our students because not all St. Mark’s students are the same. The laptop is a tool to support a student’s studies and it is appropriate for students and their families to seek a personal fit for a tool that will be used so heavily and frequently.

Q

How many students already have laptops?

A

Approximately 90-95% of St. Mark’s students already have a laptop that they use for academic work, in addition to the shared library and dorm computers. For the vast majority of current St. Mark’s students and their families, the laptop requirement will simply be “business as usual”. In a school with roughly 500 users, including faculty and staff and their families, we have observed approximately 1600 distinct devices connected to our wifi network. There is already a lot of technology on campus.

Q

What computer will St. Mark’s require in 2015-2016?

A

The School is currently developing the specific requirements. These requirements for 2015-2016 will be posted over the summer along with the 2014-2015 Getting Ready information. St. Mark’s will require a computer that is capable of running the basic applications that students require to do their academic work: web browsing and research, data analysis, word processing, presentations, and lightweight audio/video editing. Both Mac OS and Windows laptops will be supported, and the school will annually review the software-driven requirements for student computers.

Q

What software will St. Mark’s require in 2015-2016?

A

The School is currently developing the specific requirements. These requirements for 2015-2016 will be posted over the summer along with the 2014-2015 Getting Ready information. We anticipate that students will need to run a specific, current version of:
Mac OS or Windows
A major web browser (Safari/Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome)
A Microsoft Office-compatible office suite
A video editor such as iMovie or Movie Maker
An audio editor such as GarageBand or Audacity.

Q

Will I be able to use my current computer?

A

For the vast majority of students, the answer will be an emphatic yes! The requirements will be defined based on a combination of software capabilities (the ability to run a recent version of your operating system and required software) and network connectivity (the ability to connect to specific kinds of wireless networks). Just about any new computer purchased in the past 1-2 years should be able to meet these requirements. Some older computers may also meet the requirements with software upgrades or minor hardware upgrades (e.g. replacing a wifi card).

Q

Will I need a “better” laptop for advanced courses?

A

No. The school offers a range of classes that take advantage of higher level computing resources than the average laptop can provide. For example, the FIRST Robotics team and physics classes use CAD software, the Digital Music class uses professional audio recording and editing software, the Photography and New Media classes use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, statistics and geometry classes use a variety of modeling software packages. In each of these cases, where very specific computing resources are required, the School maintains computer labs and/or carts to support student work.

Q

Will I be able to purchase software through the school?

A

Yes. The Bookstore already sells student editions of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows at a (steep) student discount, and we plan to expand our offerings in line with the laptop requirements.

Q

Will I need different software for different classes?

A

Maybe. Several classes already require students to purchase specific software to support the curriculum, as they would a textbook or other study resource. In these cases, the software is available through the Bookstore.

Q

Will I be able to purchase my computer through the school?

A

Maybe. This is one of the options that the school is currently examining, and the decision will be made based on the cost trade-offs for families. Families will not be able to purchase computers through the school for the 2014-2015 school year. However, as plans are finalized for 2015-2016, this may change and students and families will be notified of this option as well.

Q

Will there be computers for loan?

A

Yes, there already are, available from the Library. Loaner computers are not meant to be permanent, but are there to support students with a short term need, such as when their own laptop is being repaired or, at present, when they are working on a project for which a laptop is required and they do not have access to a laptop. The Library laptop loaner program will continue through 2014-2015 and into 2015-2016. In 2015-2016, we anticipate that the use of the loaner laptops will be solely by students whose own laptops are being repaired.

Q

Will financial aid support computer purchases?

A

Yes. As is the case for all other school necessities, the St. Mark’s financial aid program will support the purchase of a computer in proportion to a family’s financial aid package.

Q

Will I be able to use a tablet or iPad instead of a laptop?

A

No. The school is specifically requiring that students bring a laptop to support their studies to ensure that all students have both comparable tools to support instruction in the classroom and so that students will have sufficient hardware and software resources that the computer will be an aid, rather than a stumbling block. The present state of tablet technology is impressive, and the school has embraced iPads in a number of forums, including the Library loaner pool, individual faculty use and several classroom carts, but they are sufficiently different from a laptop as not to be interchangeable. The School will continue to reevaluate the specific device requirements each year, and we anticipate that the requirements will be updated as technology advances.

Q

Will I need a tablet, iPad, smartphone or other device in addition to the laptop?

A

No. Many students already have smartphones (and some also have tablets or iPads), but the School does not anticipate making these required tools at this time.

Q

Will there be IT support for student laptops?

A

Yes. In addition to the existing Technology Prefect program that supports students in their houses, the IT Helpdesk will expand its support for student laptops to a full service level. We anticipate that this will require an increase in our current Helpdesk staff. The IT department is leading the effort to define the software and hardware requirements with an eye towards providing this support.

Q

Will students have access to wifi everywhere on campus?

A

Everywhere reasonable. In 2012-2013, the school expanded its wifi network to improve coverage in all houses and academic spaces, and to improve its coverage in other public spaces (in the athletic center, for example). We anticipate and intend that some parts of campus, such as the warming hut and the cross country loop, will remain quaintly “off the grid”.

Q

Will students be taught how to use their laptops?

A

Yes. The Academic Technology office is both currently designing a pre-matriculation training regime that will be in small-scale testing in 2014-2015 and working with the Dean of Academics in our present curriculum review to ensure that technological skills are thoughtfully incorporated throughout the curriculum of the School.

Q

Who can I talk to if I have more questions?

A

Seth Battis, the Director of Academic Technology is happy to chat. Drop him a line at SethBattis@stmarksschool.org .

"If you are a current faculty, staff or student and are looking for more specific technical information, please visit the HelpDesk."

helpdesk@stmarksschool.org