The $50 family contribution

From time to time during the 17-year history of Computers in Homes, schools have requested that we waive the requirement for families to have to pay the $50 contribution towards the cost of the programme. Historically, we have taken a firm line on this and insisted that families make this commitment for the following reasons:

  • the principle underlying the concept of a family contribution is that people value things more if they have to pay for them (the ‘skin  in the game’ principle);
  • the $50 fee was set as a nominal amount in the year 2000 and has remained unchanged ever since;
  • nationally, the family contribution comes to $75,000 each year and this income is a small but necessary part of the CIH budget;
  • families who struggle to find a spare $50 have been encouraged to make a $5 payment each week during training; schools are usually happy to accept these payments;
  • programmes like Manaiakalani that started in a decile 1a school have proven that even families in the lowest income communities can find money for technology when they see the value; Manaiakalani families typically pay $3.50 per week over 3 years to pay off a digital device for their children;
  • most families quickly see the value in CIH – they often view it as an affordable way to procure a computer;
  • families will incur other costs in joining the digital world, such as an internet connection;  if families cannot afford $50, then we do need to think carefully about whether they will be able to afford other ongoing ‘digital’ costs.

That said, there have been exceptions.  A recent one was the Kaikoura earthquake;  the fee was waived for CIH families in training at the time.  There have also been instances where schools have recognised specific situations of financial hardship and have procured other resources to cover the family fee for selected families; this is not unusual in most schools where Principals have a hardship fund to support families with camp fees or other discretionary expenses.  In some areas, external funding from local Rotary groups or businesses have been used to contribute towards the family contribution.

So our position remains the same as for the last 17 years, i.e. all participating families must pay the $50, although at the discretion of the school, assistance can be provided from other resources (within the school or externally).

We are aware that most schools accept this approach, and will not allow the computer to be taken home until the $50 payment has been made.  In exceptional cases of poverty (as assessed by the school), we have agreed from time to time to reduce the amount invoiced to the school, where efforts have been made to get a family to pay, but they have failed to do so.

Updates to the CIH online Family Registration Form


Thanks for the feedback from the Coordinators who have started to use the online registration form – 5 regions are now using this and have provided useful feedback on the design of this form.  As a result, we have made some improvements:

  • a tick box for the $50 commitment
  • a signature field
  • adding validation for phone number formatting
  • fixing a glitch with email address validation
  • adding a couple of omitted fields (Child 4 & 5 DOB)

The process currently is:

  • participants complete a paper-based version of the registration form which includes their time preferences for training
  • when accepted onto the programme participants (or the coordinator) transfer this information into the online registration form (this should happen on the first night of training)
  • the google form populates a secure google doc and selected fields are then transferred manually to the main Computers in Homes MOE 2016-17 google sheets ( we are using a manual process at this stage but this may be automated in the future)

Please note:

  • There may be a day or two between participants entering their info and it being available in  the main Computers in Homes MOE 2016-17 sheet
  • The form is for new Families starting with CiH. Once the data is entered and transferred to the main google sheets, all updates should be carried out in the main google doc
  • We have discovered that families who enter the data themselves may not take a lot of care in terms of capitalising their names or street names, so coordinators will need to review the data once it appears in the main google sheets and make any corrections.
  • Date format: the form takes the date and time format from the computer & browser used with the form.  Our preference is dd mmm yyyy e.g. 29 Jul 2008 or dd/mm/yyyy.  If you see other formats e.g. American mm/dd/yyyy 07/29/2008 it is because the training computer Languages and Regions has not been set to NZ. Unfortunately we can’t use the form to force our preferred format – but it’s an opportunity to get the PCs used by participants set to NZ time!


Family Registrations for 2016-17

Thank you to the coordinators who have trialed our new online registration form; we have had such positive feedback that we would like to adopt this immediately across the whole programme for 2016-17.  So this is now “compulsory” for all registrations.  Some coordinators are using this as a practical exercise at the first training session and that is fine with us.  Others are using the printed form and then data entering themselves. Clearly the first option will save you a bit of effort and gets everyone off to a good start on their digital learning journey – filling in online forms is definitely a skill we want all CIH families to have.  And it can even provide a learning opportunity for participants – one family in Christchurch didn’t know their postcode, so the tutor took the opportunity to get everyone to go to the NZ Postcode site and enter their own addresses to find their postcodes.

But perhaps the biggest advantage for coordinators is that information loaded through the online form will be used to populate your Google Sheets, saving you even further work!

For the two or three coordinators who have already made a start populating the 2016-17 google sheets with family names, please now re-enter the data into the online form (you can access this from the secure area of the CiH website).

Please make sure you are using the new registration forms (also in the secure area of the CiH website), so that you are capturing details about participants’ children at the time of registration.

New column in 2016-17 Google Sheets

I have added a new column (AY) in the 2016-17 Google Sheets for coordinators to record that they have received and are holding a signed copy of the family agreement form.  This is a simple pull-down (YES/NO) menu.  I would expect this to be completed by the end of the first week of training. This is required to meet the new reporting requirements of our CIH contract.

Connected Learning – opportunity to provide feedback

I expect that coordinators will recall the presentation by Marina Dixon from the Ministry of Education at our recent hui in Wellington.  She showed us a sample of the “Connected Learning” resources the Ministry has been developing.  These have now been published and can be accessed online .   The resources are aimed at helping teachers make the most of digital technologies in everyday teaching and learning. The main audience for these resources is primary school teachers who are relatively new to the use of digital technologies to support teaching and learning.   Marina has invited feedback from CiH Coordinators on the four pilot resources:

  • ‘Me and my students’ – this tool introduces teachers to a student inquiry approach which supports 21st century skills such as student agency and demonstrates, through video, how digital tools can be used to support the skills of student inquiry.
  • ‘Start me up’ – this is a series of quick and easy online, interactive learning modules for classroom teachers who are new to, and less confident in, using digital technologies to support teaching and learning.
  • ‘Show me around’ – this is a ‘virtual tour’ or interactive video showcase of innovative teaching and learning practices supported by digital technologies in a school which is advanced in its use of technologies to support learning.
  • Connecting me’ – this is a quick search tool which makes it easier for teachers, principals and parents to find relevant Government-provided information from multiple websites which supports the integration of technologies with learning.

How you can help:

During the pilot phase, the Ministry is keen to seek feedback on these resources from groups like the 2020 Computers in Homes team who liaise with parents and caregivers around the use of digital technologies.   Feedback could cover topics such as:

  • how useful you think these resources will be for the intended audience
  • any comments on content, design or technical aspects
  • ideas as to how we can make these resources better targeted to the intended audience, and/or
  • ideas as to what resources we can create in the future to add to the Connected Learning Resources set.

Please send any feedback on the Connected Learning Resources to Marina by 31 August 2016.

New CIH Family Agreement from 1 July 2016

All families participating in Computers in Homes from 1 July 2016 are required to complete a newFamily Agreement 1 (July 2016).  The new form deletes some components of the old agreement and adds a new requirement about information sharing with Government agencies (last bullet point).  We are legally required under the Privacy Act to obtain the explicit approval of participating families to permit us to inform government agencies the names of families who have participated in Computers in Homes.  Families need to be reassured that this information is solely for research and evaluation purposes; the results of any analysis carried out using this information will not identify individual families; the data will always be reported in such a way that individual families can not be identified.

New Registration Form for CIH Families

As from today (1 July 2016) all coordinators are required to use a new  FamilyRegistrationForm when registering families.  This is required to capture some additional information about participating families, including date of birth and children’s names and birth dates.  We have an online version of this sign-up form in the secure area of the CIH website (Coordinator Resources):

Coordinators are required to transfer the data from the registration form to the online form and this will populate our google sheets.

This is the first step in a new integrated approach to data capture, where CIH family data is entered in one place only, something many of you have been asking for, for some time.  This is a work in progress, so there might need to be some manual back office updating before everything is working as we need it, but we have to start somewhere.

It has already been suggested that maybe families could enter the data themselves as part of their first class.  This is a possibility (assuming they have the confidence to do this) but the forms would still need to be completed manually some time before the start of the first class, as they are also used to help schedule classes at a time that suits everyone.

Anyway, let’s give it a go and we can improve our processes as we move forward.

Chris T has raised some points below and I have included my comments by way of a response:

Chris:  Actually, I’ve had another look at this form and think there’s some other things missing.  There’s no provision for providing contact details for prospective participants.

My response:  There is provision for a physical address and a phone number.  What other contact details would you expect, given that it is highly likely applicants would not already have an email address, or if they did, no computer to access their email.

Chris: There’s no “features and benefits” for prospective participants.  For example:  They are entitled to a computer, subsidised internet connection and tech support.  

My response:   I guess this could be added, but I would have expected this to be explained at the parent information evening or through other communications.  The registration form is really just intended as a registration of interest and to help trainers plan a suitable training time.

Chris: You could also cut down on space by replacing the table under the question “what time suits? and put Morning/Afternoon/Evening on one line and Days of the week on the next line.

My response:  This becomes a problem when “Tuesday Morning”, “Wednesday Afternoon” and “Thursday Evening” all suit.