St Mark’s School BYOC (Bring Your Own Chromebook) 

Optional Programme for Years 6-8


Over the past 3 years we have been thinking and planning as to how we can develop our e-learning programmes and where BYOC might fit with learning at St Mark’s School. This has been a journey of developing pedagogy and understandings with the intention of making decisions with learners at the centre. We understand that some families at St Mark’s School are at the beginning of understanding their place in this journey and we want to share the information and research that has been part of our professional learning and planning.

The concept of BYOC is an established practice worldwide in which students bring their own device to school to enhance and assist their learnings. It is a practice where parents/whānau, staff and students work in partnership.

 "Bring your own technology (BYOT) is an educational development and a supplementary school technology resourcing model, where the home and the school collaborate in arranging for students '24/7' use of their own digital technology/ies to be extended into the classroom, and in so doing assist their teaching and learning and the organisation of the their schooling and, where relevant, the complementary education outside the classroom." - Lee & Levins, 2012

How do devices enhance learning?

Using digital technologies:

How are, and will devices be used in years 6 - 8 at St Mark’s School?

It is important to indicate that whilst students use Chromebooks at some part of every day, they are only used as a tool to enhance and support learning. This learning can and does include:

Other positive outcomes supported in the research include: - enhanced engagement in learning tasks, enjoyment and sharing of learning, raised achievement, and articulation of next steps and goals. Improved communication and sharing of learning with home also contributes to raised achievement and success.

Our BYOC programme has been developed through a combination of research of emerging best practice, learning from other schools, trials of Chromebooks at our school, and input from our St Mark's School family including parents and caregivers, students, and staff. In 2016, we began a trial of Chromebooks in years 6-8 as a tool to offer new and different learning opportunities. We have found that students have been highly engaged and have made great progress in their learning, particularly in writing.  


Chromebooks are fast, easy to use, relatively cost-effective, safe and secure devices. As they have no moving parts, they are more resilient than laptops. Chromebooks are now the number one selling educational device in New Zealand.

BYOC is not compulsory and there will still be an existing supply of Chromebooks for student use in the classroom in 2018. If your child has their own Chromebook, it will be used only by them and will be locked away in their classroom when they are not in the room, e.g. lunchtimes. It will be brought to school each day and taken home for home learning and charging.

We highly recommend purchasing through Cyclone. There will be an online portal (website) with selected Chromebooks, bundled with an extended 3-year warranty, 3-year insurance, education licence, and carry case. This portal will be available from the start of term four onwards. The education licence will be compulsory for all Chromebooks at school, as it enables us to keep devices safe and secure. We strongly suggest purchasing insurance cover, as the school will not be liable for any damages.    

Please read our FAQ for further information. We have endeavoured to respond to all of the questions raised in our recent survey and e-learning day. You can also contact Cyclone directly with questions: 03 338 0320. (Ask for Kim or the schools team.) Thank you again for your input.

We encourage your questions and feedback.

Averil Worner


Cristy Yonetani

E-Learning Lead Teacher

Frequently Asked Questions:

Has there been community consultation leading up to BYOC?

How will we create a safer digital environment?

How secure and reliable are Chromebooks?

What about spelling?

What about handwriting?

Will social media and games distract students?

How will e-learning opportunities be made more consistent throughout the school?

What about equity of access?

What happens at the end of year-8?


Has there been community consultation leading up to BYOC?

2016 Term Two: Community Consultation Evening

You let us know that you valued digital literacy and 21st century learning skills. We began working hard to strengthen teaching learning in these areas. We embarked on a trial of 30 Chromebooks for our year 6-8 students.

2017 Term One: E-Learning Evening

We shared our progress with you. Our student leaders and selected students shared their experiences and answered your questions. We discussed our teaching and learning experiences with Chromebooks so far. You let us know that digital citizenship and cybersafety were a major concern.

2017 Term Two: Digital Citizenship Afternoon

In response to your feedback, we embarked on a digital citizenship review. To honour the special character of our school, we began actively teaching students to display our St Mark's School values in an online setting. Through the Aoraki Matatū (Kia Kaha) programme, our students learned to be kind, responsible, and safer online. We invited you to discuss the challenges of cybersafety and digital citizenship with us.

2017 Term Three: E-Learning Day

Based on our previous community events and your survey responses, we proposed a BYOC programme. We engaged in discussion with many families and decided that BYOC will go ahead as an option for our year 6-8 students, starting in term one 2018.    

How will we create a safer digital environment?

No digital environment is 100% safe. We believe in balancing restrictions and responsibility. While we employ some restrictions to keep students safe, we also emphasise that students are responsible for the content they choose to access.

Our current safety measures include:

        N4L Filtering

We are members of the Network for Learning Managed Network. N4L blocks access to sites with adult content. N4L also blocks social media sites, such as Facebook.

        Education Licences for all Chromebooks

        Through the education licensing system, we have great control over our Chromebooks. We enforce

Google Safe Search, YouTube Restricted Mode, and block individual websites which interfere with learning (for example, games such as Students are unable to delete their browsing history at school.  


Teacher Supervision

        Chromebooks are not allowed to be used at morning tea or lunchtime. We regularly rove classrooms

when Chromebooks are being used. If students are quickly switching between tabs, we have access to their browsing history to check that they are on task.  

Our initiatives to promote responsibility include:

        Our School Values

We actively encourage our students to demonstrate our school values online. Students show huatau, grace, by being kind, and hiranga, excellence, by aiming for the highest standards in their e-learning.  

        Culture of Learning

                Our students know that Chromebooks are for learning. Chromebooks are never allowed to be used for

games at school. There are always clear expectations for learning tasks on Chromebooks and students are held accountable if they do not complete tasks to an acceptable standard.    

Aoraki Matatū / Kia Kaha

Cybersafety was a key part of our Aoraki Matatū / Kia Kaha programme, which we led in term two of this year. Those messages are constantly being reinforced in our classroom practice. We have an established culture of safe telling, where students let a teacher know of any bullying, including cyberbullying, which may take place.

How secure and reliable are Chromebooks?

Chromebooks are among the most secure devices on the market. Since 2009, Google has offered a 'bug bounty' for ChromeOS. This year, Google doubled the bounty to $100,000. So far, no one has been able to hack ChromeOS and claim the bounty.

There is no need to install anti-virus software on Chromebooks because of their unique hardware configuration. Every Chromebook contains two versions of Chrome OS, an active version, and a passive version. Every time the Chromebook starts up, each step of the process is authenticated and verified. If any errors are detected, the Chromebook switches to the other version of ChromeOS. The passive version is also used for updates, meaning a user is never interrupted by system updates.  

There is no 'blue screen of doom' (Windows) or 'beach ball/rainbow wheel' (Mac) in Chrome OS. On the rare occasion we've experienced a Chromebook freezing, we've simply restarted it. Chromebooks start up within 8 seconds. Students lose little, if any, of their work, because Google Docs and other apps are constantly auto-saving.

With education licensing, each Chromebook can only be used with an login. The ability to 'powerwash' (return to factory settings) is disabled. This prevents students from bypassing our safety and security measures. If a Chromebook is stolen, it will be unusable.    


What about spelling?

We are working hard to improve our students' spelling skills and will continue to do so. Our school-wide WordLab programme is device-free. WordLab takes place at least three times a week. WordLab ensures that students are learning about spelling patterns, prefixes, and suffixes. Every WordLab session includes teacher-directed activities, including spelling words aloud, raising awareness of syllables, phonics, and writing exercises. Students are also expected memorise three new words each week through the WordLab programme.  

We encourage students writing on Chromebooks to use spell check thoughtfully and accurately. In our experience, students are more willing to take risks and try new words when they are supported by technology such as spell check and the Read&Write app. We have seen an increased volume of writing and more interesting vocabulary as these students gain confidence using devices.

What about handwriting?

We believe that handwriting remains an important skill at this time. Students will continue to write in exercise books some of the time, where a high level of effort and neatness is expected. Students who bring Chromebooks can expect to use them every day for some learning activities, not all of the time.

Handwriting is especially important for our younger students as they develop fine motor skills. We aim to develop a strong foundation in Mōkihi and Waka Pūhara, which can then be maintained in Waka Hourua.  

Will social media and games distract students?

There is a common misconception that young people only use devices for social media and games. This is certainly not the case at school. All of our students are familiar with the expectation, "Chromebooks are for learning." Social media sites are blocked, so they cannot be accessed at school. If a particular site is distracting students, we have the ability to block access to that site.

We are very keen to support our students to become independent learners. In the same way that students can doodle on paper or write notes to friends, they can choose to be off-task on Chromebooks. One possible response is to put extensive restrictions in place, so that students can only access websites which the teacher selects. We believe this would undermine our students' responsibility for their own learning. Furthermore, such restrictions would greatly reduce the learning value of being online. Some of our favourite teaching moments are when students finds amazing resources and shares them with their classmates.

We are constantly reflecting on the balance between teacher-directed and student-led learning. While we favour a high-trust model (advocated by NetSafe), where students are empowered to make responsible choices with access to a wide range of information, we have the ability to put further restrictions in place if necessary. Chromebooks with education licences give us very fine-tuned control over how students use their devices. We can implement restrictions, or give students greater freedom, at any time. We can also tailor this to meet our students' unique learning needs, for example, by year level, subject, or even for individual users.    


How will e-learning opportunities be made more consistent throughout the school?

Every teacher in our St Mark's School family brings a unique range of gifts and talents. One benefit of collaborating in teaching teams is that we can share our expertise and help one another to improve our teaching practice. By learning with different teachers, students gain the opportunity to engage with teachers who are truly passionate about e-learning.

We are committed to supporting professional learning and development (PLD) in e-learning. Cristy Yonetani, Katrina Steans, and Emily Wells comprise our e-learning crew. The e-learning crew's PLD has included training from Apple and Google, participation in consultation for the upcoming Digital Technologies Curriculum, and crucially, real-world teaching and learning practice with students and colleagues. Our e-learning lead teacher, Cristy Yonetani, is a graduate of the Mind Lab (Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice: Digital & Collaborative Learning) and Google Level 2 Certified Educator.

As we work towards greater consistency in e-learning throughout the school, it is worth noting that this will not entail uniform use of devices across year levels. We are very keen to tailor e-learning to suit our students' unique learning needs and stages of growth and development. E-learning will not replace traditional teaching and learning. Rather, e-learning will supplement our teaching practice. This balance of digital 'screen-time' and analogue (exercise books, paint, face-to-face conversations) will inevitably look different depending on the learning taking place and the students involved.  

What about equity of access?

In 2018, the school will continue to have some Chromebooks available for use in class. These devices will remain at school. Students will not be allowed to take them home. Students who bring their own Chromebooks to school will not be asked to share them and will be the sole-user of their Chromebook.

We are very keen to have a 1:1 ratio of devices for our year 6-8 students. While it is not compulsory for your child to bring their own Chromebook, it is strongly encouraged. Part of the reason we are advocating Chromebooks, rather than alternate devices, is that they are a relatively cost-effective option. There will be a financing option for families if required.

The school will recommend a limited range of Chromebooks, which have been successfully deployed in schools around New Zealand. We have partnered with Cyclone to select the Chromebooks which are best suited to our educational environment. These Chromebooks will be competitively priced and bundled with an extended 3-year warranty, 3-year insurance, education licence, and carry case.

St Mark's School strongly encourages purchasing through Cyclone, as they have a proven track record of working successfully in the education sector. Other retailers may not be able to provide the same level of customer support and do not know our school as well as Cyclone does.

What happens at the end of year-8?

When students leave St Mark's School, they continue their education at a range of high schools with different BYOD programmes. Some high schools support the use of Chromebooks. Students who attend those schools can continue to use their Chromebook. However, some high schools insist on MacBooks or Windows devices. This presents a particular challenge for some of our year-8 2018 families, who may only use a Chromebook for one year.  

Whenever a student leaves St Mark's School, the education licence on their Chromebook will be decommissioned. This clears all data relating to the student who used the Chromebook and restores the Chromebook to its factory settings. Students who continue to use their Chromebooks at high school can install a new education licence from their new school if required. Students who will no longer be using their Chromebook can resell the Chromebook, or pass it on to a younger sibling at St Mark's School at an appropriate year level (with the purchase of a new education licence).

We understand that there may be some reluctance to purchase a Chromebook that will only be used for one year before a different device is required. Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable step in the introduction of BYOC. There will still be Chromebooks available at school for students who do not bring their own. However, these must remain at school and will be shared as needed.