Technology

Bring Your Own Laptop

Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL) Requirements

The MacDuffie School is  committed to creating a modern one-to-one learning environment. Our objective is for students to possess extensive practical experience using the technology skills required in today’s information-rich colleges, universities, and workplaces.

MacDuffie requires all students to bring their own personal laptop to school.  Any laptop (Mac, Windows, or Chromebook) that can connect to a WiFi network and that will work with Google Apps for Education (Chrome web browser, Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, etc.) will qualify.  An excellent, economical choice is the Google Chromebook. These devices are mostly web-based, but will work offline as well. There is no need to install software. They are fast, have a long battery life, and update automatically. Prices start at $149 (as of June 2016), but we highly recommend purchasing a laptop with a metal body, which will better endure the rigors of middle and high school life.  

Suggested laptop models include the following (pricing as of June 2016):

  • Apple MacBook Air starts at $849 for the 11” model.
  • Lenovo Yoga 710 (11”) starts at $649 with a m3 CPU and convertible touch screen.
  • Acer Chromebook 14 costs $299 and has a metal body with a 12-hour battery.
  • Asus Chromebook Flip starts at $249 with a touch screen and aluminum housing.

Tablets (including iPads, Kindles, Nooks, Android tablets) and smartphones are not permitted as primary academic devices. However, they do make excellent complementary or secondary devices.

Devices and Software not allowed on the MacDuffie network are:

  • Wireless routers, Access Points (AP), and network switches. (Apple TVs, Playstations, XBoxes, etc. are permitted, but the IP address must be registered with the IT department in order to go online.)
  • VPN and Bittorrent software is prohibited on the school network.

Additional Technology Requirements:

  • AC adapter for laptop, which should be fully charged at the beginning of every school day.
  • Antivirus software with an active subscription. We recommend Avast.
  • Google Chrome web browser because it’s necessary for printing via Google Cloud Print and it’s the most compatible browser for Google Apps. Safari, Firefox, Edge, and Internet Explorer are not sufficient.
  • English as the default operating system language.
  • VGA/HDMI dongle adapter if your laptop does not have a standard full size VGA/HDMI adapter. This will allow you to connect to the audio visual systems in the classrooms for presentations.
  • All students enrolled in a mathematics course are required to own a Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus or TI-84 graphing calculator.

Technology Recommendations:

  • Sturdy protective laptop case or padded sleeve.
  • Extended warranty or support: Many manufacturers offer extended support (e.g., the AppleCare Protection plan, which provides additional coverage beyond the first year).
  • Keep handy your CDs, receipt from purchase, serial number, and literature from your machine so you can contact the manufacturer in case of an issue.
  • External hard drive for backing up files. It’s not a matter of “if” your hard drive will stop, but “when.”
Ebooks

Some class textbooks are available in e-book format. Our new online virtual book store is available at http://macduffie.ecampus.com/.

E-books generally cost less than their printed counterparts and allow for a much lighter backpack. Text can easily be highlighted, annotated, searched, bookmarked, and viewed across multiple devices. Almost all English novels are available in e-book format (Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, or Google Books). These books can be read on any device and do not require a dedicated e-book reader. Once purchased you own these books.

Note that some e-textbooks are web-based and will require a username and password assigned by the teacher. This type of e-textbook is usually only available for the duration of the class, either a semester or all year long.

Please Note: Apple’s iBook format for textbooks will not be supported at MacDuffie because iBooks can only be viewed on Apple devices such as, iPads, iMacs, iPhones, or MacBooks.

WiFi Expectations

In a school environment, Internet access is a shared finite resource and has to be managed to ensure fair and equal access to all. There are bandwidth limits and quotas that result in connection speeds more similar to a library, cafe, or hotel instead of a home. However, unlike some schools, we do not currently ban streaming video or online games, but we may restrict the amount of bandwidth allocated to such activities. MacDuffie has a dedicated high-speed 1 gigabit fiberoptic firewall-protected filtered Internet connection and supports the 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi wireless standards throughout the campus.  The MacDuffie School Computer Acceptable Use Policy can be found at http://macduffie.org/aup.

Google Apps For Education

With more than 40 million users, Google Apps for Education, which includes Gmail, Google Drive, Docs, Calendars, Sheets, Slides, Blogger and more, is used by 72 of the top 100 U.S universities and 7 out 8 Ivy League schools. Schools include Georgetown, Brown, University of Michigan, Mount Holyoke, Yale, Brandeis, Vanderbilt and many others. Google Apps are accessible from multiple devices and allow for unparalleled collaboration; Google Drive offers unlimited secure cloud storage that can easily be transferred to another education or personal account when a student graduates. No additional productivity software needs to be purchased by a student.

Printing

Laser printers are located throughout the campus and within every dorm common room. With the use of Google Cloud Print, students and faculty can print from any internet connected device. iPhones will need to use Chrome or Google Drive, while Windows users can use the Google Cloud Printer driver to print from any application. MacBook users will need to use the Chrome web browser in order to print.

Renweb

Renweb, MacDuffie’s student information software (SIS), offers a web portal for teachers, students and parents to access current grades, lesson plans, and homework on a daily basis. There is also an app for iPhone and Android phones called RenWeb Home. Instructions for creating an account will be emailed at the beginning of the school year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will my child be protected from inappropriate content?

MacDuffie uses a Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)-compliant web filter to block access to websites with inappropriate content.  All wireless devices using the MacDuffie network are filtered through this appliance.  Cell phones with a 3G/4G data plan are not filtered, because they are on a separate carrier network.

My child is out of control and addicted to electronic devices!  How would BYOL help?

Students will be required to use their electronic devices during the school only when it is permissible and for educational purposes. Violations of any school rules or administrative procedures involving a student’s personal device may result in the loss of use of the device in school and/or disciplinary action. The school reserves the right to inspect a student’s personal device if there is reason to believe that the student has violated school policies or administrative procedures or has engaged in other misconduct while using their personal device.

Students will need to learn to be responsible digital citizens and see that technology is a tool that should be approached in a balanced manner. Technology is an integral part of our modern society and cannot easily be ignored.

Who is responsible for the care and maintenance of a student’s laptop?

MacDuffie students and their families are responsible for the day-to-day care and maintenance of their devices.  Student devices should come to school charged and ready for use.  MacDuffie will not assume responsibility for devices that are damaged or lost while on school grounds.  Some basic troubleshooting may be provided to students, as needed and available, while devices are in use at school.  MacDuffie strongly recommends using a protective case and up-to-date antivirus software.

When can my child use their devices?

Student devices are intended for learning.  Ultimately, classroom teachers will decide when it is appropriate for students to use their devices.

Students may use their electronic devices during classroom instruction, when in the computer lab, library, or when otherwise authorized by school personnel provided that the devices are being used for academic purposes only.  Devices may not be used for game play and social networking during school hours.

Does my child’s device need specific software or apps?

Students are not required to purchase any software or apps.  Your child’s teachers may request bookmarks or free applications during the school year.  The sole requirement for all students using a Windows, Mac, or Chromebook laptop is the Google Chrome browser and an active antivirus software subscription.  This minimal requirement allows for a broad range of technologies to meet our standards.