Windows 10 now available for MARS

Brian Lawrence at Conbrio advised me today that Microsoft has now included Windows 10 in the MARS (Microsoft’s Authorised Refurbisher Scheme) licencing programme, which means we can now plan to migrate our standard Computers in Homes image from Windows 7 to Windows 10.   Sue Kini is taking a look at what this might mean for the Stepping UP modules that we use for Computers in Homes training and will report on this at our NCCG in Whangarei.  I am proposing that we ask our refurbishers to start supplying computers with the new image from the start of September, but we will hold off on a firm decision until we meet in Whangarei.

Chromebooks and CiH

Chris Turner has asked a number of questions about chromebooks and CIH.  My responses are recorded here for others who may have the same or similar questions.  But just as a preamble, Sue Kini is testing the water in Whangarei, offering chromebooks to CiH families who are part of a BYOD cluster as an alternative to a refurbished computer.  The offer received a positive response from schools, which perhaps was to be expected, but it is too early to see how well this will work with families.  In principle, we want to be flexible about the type of computing device we provide as part of CiH, but we do want to make sure families are aware of the constraints around chromebooks and the absolute need for an internet connection  to do anything useful.

Question 1.  I’ve been having a look at Chromebooks preparatory to approaching two of my schools about training/offering their families a Chromebook.It’s going to require a change in training, which is not really a problem – most tutors would be able to cope with it.

Comment: We have a Chromebooks Stepping UP module;  Sue Kini will be reviewing the other CiH modules for a ‘Chromebook world’ as part of her pilot.

Question 2. Another consideration that I thought about is that we should still offer the family a choice of a desktop, laptop or a chromebook. 

Comment: Absolutely – we should offer all three options – there is a training module prepared by Patrick Harlow (one of Briar’s tutors) that trainers should use to help families understand the relative benefits of each type of device before they make a decision.

Question 3. The Chromebook that we supply them with is to be the family’s device, and not for the child to take with him/her to school, do I have that right?  

Comment: Our objective is to build parents’ and caregivers’ confidence in using digital devices, whether this be a desktop, laptop or chromebook, “to support their children’s learning”.  We will not be telling them what their children can or can’t do with the device.  In the Whangarei case, we definitely see the children taking the Chromebook to school, but parents would also have been trained in its use, so they can use it with their children at home.

Question 4. Difficulties arise when there are more than one child going to the same school and requiring a Chromebook as well.  I know that Taupo High School does have spare Chromebooks for those who don’t have one, so the device at home can stay there.  However, I’m not too impressed with the robustness of a Chromebook as a family device and am worried that a family with several kids and mum and dad will also find that it’s not suitable either.

Comment:  We are only funded to provide one device per family.  So this a factor families need to take into account when making decisions about the preferred device.  Patrick’s training module should also help families reach a good decision.

Question 5. I’ve found out that the child doesn’t have to have a Chromebook at home in order to do his/her homework.  Homework can be done online on a desktop or a laptop, files can be transferred with a pendrive from home to school and vice versa.

Comment: I totally agree.  The Whangarei pilot is a response to an economic situation.  Schools are requiring students to bring a Chromebook and asking parents to pay the device off over 2-3 years (like our BYOD pilot).  CiH families also need to contribute towards the cost of an internet connection.  Together these costs can be $20 per week.  However, if the Chromebook is supplied as part of CiH, families only face the cost of the internet contribution ($10/week).

Question 6. A Chromebook might not be popular with a family who likes to play games.  With a 16GB SS Hard drive, you can’t install any games, and you’d be limited with what games could be played off a pendrive!  It does have an HDMI connection, two USB connections and an SD card slot, so it could be connected to a monitor or a TV.  

Comment:  This is another factor that families need to take into account when choosing a Chromebook.

Question 7. Where do we buy Chromebooks from?  Dick Smith?  I went there yesterday and they didn’t have any.  Didn’t seem interested in ordering any in for me, either.

Comment: Dick Smith’s sponsorship funding for Computers in Homes has ended and any consideration of a possible renewal now rests with the receivers.  My view is that this is highly unlikely, at least in the short term.  So we are not obligated to purchase from Dick Smith.

Question 8. I’ll ask my trustees if I can buy one from Noel Leeming and give it a good test run.

Comment:  Good move.  Noel Leeming is actively advertising BYOD devices at the moment.