Emily Paine (12) completes some school work using her own
digital device with fellow classmates (from left) Kingsley
Holder, Callum Butcher, Elloise Dixon, Jamie Horsefield and
Trey Mclean (all 12). Photo by Craig Baxter.
Balmacewen Intermediate in Dunedin is about to become the
first intermediate state school in Otago to encourage all
pupils to bring electronic devices to school for learning.
Principal Andrew Hunter said an initiative was trialled in
two classrooms last year in which pupils brought their own
laptops, smartphones or tablets to use in class.
It was a great success and now that parents had been
consulted, the initiative would be introduced to the whole
school next week, he said.
''This is something new to intermediates.
''If parents want their children to have instant and constant
access to technology, they can bring their own.
''While some schools designate what to bring, we're saying
bring whatever you've got, as long as it's wireless-capable
and it can provide access to the internet.
''They can bring an iPhone, iPad or an old laptop -
whatever you have at your disposal, anything that is
There was an expectation now that pupils had an ability to
''search and create'' material online, and learning using
computers was ''the way of the future in state schools'', Mr
''Students these days seem to be born with devices strapped
to their hands.
''Allowing them to use them at school meets their needs.
We're teaching using more and more online tools.''
It would not be compulsory for all pupils because it would be
too expensive for many parents, and also too expensive for
the school to provide digital devices, he said.
''In this day and age, it costs about $20,000 to $25,000 per
year [to buy enough computers] for one piece of technology to
be shared by four pupils.
''That's really difficult to sustain.
''You have to renew them every three to four years, and on a
year like this, where it's being implemented, it could cost
up to $47,000 to provide laptops for all pupils.''
The school had at least six or seven computers in each
classroom, so no pupil would be disadvantaged if they did not
have their own, he said.
A digital citizen policy has been established at the school
to educate pupils on safe and appropriate use, and all
digital devices would be locked up during intervals and lunch
breaks, to make sure pupils did not have too much screen
time, he said.
Other state-integrated schools, such as Columba College and
St Hilda's Collegiate in Dunedin, have made it compulsory for
all pupils to have their own school-approved laptop.
Otago Primary Principals' Association president Whetu Cormick
said he was not aware of any primary schools in Otago or
Southland where all pupils were encouraged to bring their own
He said the initiative was on the radar for many primary
schools in Otago which hoped to establish similar learning
opportunities using digital devices once ultra-fast broadband
became available in their area.
''We should celebrate any innovation that supports learning,
motivation and engagement in the curriculum.
''In 2013, it seems that people in general are using
technology more often in our daily lives.
''Young people should be able to use technology to support
their own achievement and development.
''I applaud Balmacewen for making the step.''