School Launches Hybrid Device Program

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Which device will you choose? Illustration by Yvonne Xi ’19.

To kick off this academic year, the Upper School switched to a hybrid device program, allowing students to choose between using an iPad or a laptop.

In 2013, the School implemented a one-to-one pilot iPad program for all Upper and Middle School students. Last spring, the School announced on the parent portal its decision to make the change.

After careful review and research of technology’s role in learning, Brimmer is expanding its device program. By looking at the needs of students in each division, the school is moving to a Bring Your Own Device Policy (BYOD) in the Upper School. While the school has required an iPad for all Upper School students, we have found that the majority of Upper School students complete their work on laptops, while nearly all Middle School students use their iPad effectively. For the past several years, students have been voluntarily bringing laptops, iPads, and other devices to school to access the internet and other authorized network resources for learning. Our research shows that over 85% of our students already have access to a laptop for schoolwork. To best leverage technology in the classroom, all Upper School students will be required to bring either an iPad or Macbook to school that meets specific requirements beginning in the 2018- 2019 school year. Middle School students will be required to continue bringing an iPad to school.

With iPads, students retain access to eBackpack and Microsoft Office 365. The newly implemented hybrid program, however, allows students to decide what works best for them. Still, all devices much adhere to the School’s acceptable use policy, outlined in the family-student handbook. 

“This is kind of an experiment to see what types of devices students are actually using in the classroom,” Director of Technology Michael Langlois said, also noting that the hybrid program is not available on non-Apple devices.  

“I completely got rid of my iPad after freshman year,” said Chloe Cochner ’19. “None of my classes required it. Writing a paper or an essay, or doing research and opening multiple windows, is a necessity. The iPad didn’t cut it.”

According to Jordan Minor ’19, laptops also make it easier to multitask.

“With an iPad, it’s not as easy or fast to share documents,” Minor said.

Catherine Leader ’20 still uses an iPad, which she purchased before her freshman year.

“At the time, the School said we had to buy an iPad,” Leeder said. “If I could go back in time, I would have purchased a laptop. I feel stuck with what I have now. I don’t really love it, but I use it.”

Students in the Middle School will continue to use iPads. 

“We felt like the Middle School students were utilizing their iPads, and teachers had incorporated several apps specific to the device into their curriculum,” said Middle School Head Carl Rapisarda-Vallely. “For the Middle School, it made sense to keep them.”

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