Frequently Asked Questions
Why did the district choose the netbook?
A thorough analysis was completed which compare the current levels of usage of the full-size laptops in the teaching and learning process. Analyses of student, teacher and parent survey data determined that the netbook handles (80%) eighty percent of the most common tasks students use during class. The decision was also based on financial prospectus. The netbook is a cost-effective device that allows the district to expand the initiative in the middle school and high school. Many 1:1 districts have started and the high school and due to financial or philosophical reasons did not expand to the middle school.
Tablets seem to be the current hype. Why not use tablets like the iPad or Samsung Galaxy?
The tablet device was designed for the consumer’s market place. If you want to view webpages, email, movies, or books, a tablet is the solution. In order for students to excel in the 21st Century, students need to produce – create, analysis, and synthesize information during the learning process. Creating presentations, graphs, spreadsheets are the tasks that help students shape their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. In the future, we may find the tablet evolve to address these issues, but that is not the case today.
Additionally, the entire face of the device is glass, not plastic. If it drops to the floor or a student leans on it, chances are the device is unusable and a hazard may exist. Sturdy cases can be purchased, but run in the neighborhood of $50-75 and there’s still little protection for the face from shattering.
The device cannot be centrally-managed. If software needs to be installed or updated, each device must be physically touched by a technician every time. As a comparison, our laptops and desktops can be managed and imaged remotely.
When the battery dies, there is not an efficient way to replace, as with a laptop. There are limitations to the security that can be applied to ensure users are not making changes to the device.
Another area of review was screen size. While the netbook screen is small, it has an area of approximately 42 square inches, where the iPad screen is 44”. However, as soon as the iPad user activates the onscreen keyboard, the iPads viewing area drops to 21.5”, therefore, impacting productivity. For most users, the level of efficiency and productivity is impeded by the response of the onscreen keyboard.
The district is currently piloting the use of tablets as an augmentative communication device and finding it successful with students requiring that level of technology support.
Q3: Why is the district moving from the MacBooks?
There are several reasons the district is moving away from the Apple platform. At the forefront is the cost. The MacBooks are several hundred dollars more expensive than other laptops. Apple is moving away from the unibody MacBook to the MacBook Air. This is a thinner laptop with a solid state hard drive. The district doesn’t believe the additional cost a solid state hard drive adds to the price meets our needs.
Apple does not legally or logistically allow their OS or the iLife software suite to be backward compatible or allow downgrading rights. The district would need to purchase an annual maintenance agreement for approximately $80,000 to maintain the OS on all devices in the fleet.
Q4: What are the grades being rolled out for this initiative?
The implementation will be in grades 6 & 9 and will expand as follows in each building.
2012-2013 - Grades 6 & 9
2013-2014 - Grades 6, 7, 9, & 10
2014-2015 - Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, & 11
2015-2016 - Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12
Q5: Students are not to put decals or write on their laptops, are they able to identify the power adapter and bag?
Yes, a silver or white permanent marker may be used to label the charger and the inside of the sleeve/bag. After picture day, the students will be getting a second ID, a “Laptop” ID they will slide in the badge holder on the sleeve as an additional means of identification.
Q6: How are updates (e.g. Microsoft patches, antivirus definitions) handled?
All updates and patches are pushed out automatically.
Q7: How often is the My Documents folder (H: Drive) backed up to the WSD network?
Each when the student logs onto their laptop at school, their laptop will sync with WSD servers and update and changes or new documents that have been created. WSD servers are backed up daily, weekly, and monthly.
Q8: How should my student secure their computer when not in classes or involved in other activities?
Students should secure their computers in their lockers and gym lockers using the the supplied locks.
Q9: My student did not receive their laptop. What is required for them to receive it?
The following are the requirements for your student to be issued their laptop:
- At least parent must attend one of the parent orientation sessions
- The student must attend one of the student orientation sessions (6th grade students receive this as part of the school day.
- The Student/Parent Agreement For Use of Computer Form signed by both a parent and the student
- The parent and student tickets you will be able to print when registering for the orientation event through Ticket Leap
- A check or money order made payable to the Wissahickon School District for the equipment use/insurance fee. ($20 for Grade 6, $40 for Grade 9)
What about a question not listed here?
Please feel free to submit your question using our FAQ form page. If the question is common, it will be posted here. If not, we will get back to you with an answer.