Academic Technology

Enhancing Teaching and Learning

Education has certainly changed in recent years.  It seems like not so long ago, all a student needed for class was a textbook, notebook, pen, and perhaps a basic calculator.  As education has evolved, though, the need for appropriate and more sophisticated technology, both in the classroom and at home, has evolved along with it.
 
As always, in our efforts to remain at the forefront of instruction, Catholic Memorial has been constantly reevaluating the needs of its students and teachers. With that in mind, beginning in September, 2020 every Catholic Memorial student will be required to have a device that will facilitate his education both from home and in the classroom.  The minimum hardware and software specifications required for these devices, along with a Home Technology Readiness Checklist and a list of Frequently Asked Questions can be found below.

The thoughtful inclusion of technology resources throughout the curriculum will not only enhance the educational experience for all of our students but also better prepare them for the collegiate and work environments they will encounter beyond Catholic Memorial.  
 
 

2020-21 Tech Requirements

Below are recommended minimum standards for families purchasing computers for their sons to meet Catholic Memorial’s technology requirements.  Please note that a device that meets ANY of these requirements will be sufficient to run the full range of productivity and educational applications that a typical student will need during his time at CM.  Selecting a device with higher requirements will provide better performance and may extend its useful lifespan.

 

Good

Better

Best

Processor

Intel Core i5

Intel Core i7

Intel Core i7

Screen

15.6 “

15.6”

17.3 “

Memory

8 Gb

12 Gb

12+ Gb

Storage

256 Gb SSD

512 Gb SSD

512+ Gb SSD

Touchscreen

YES

YES

YES

Wifi

Wireless - AC

Wireless - AC

Wireless - AC or - AX

Operating System

Windows 10 Home

Windows 10 Home

Windows 10 Home

 

 

 

 

Webcam

YES

YES

YES

USB

YES

YES

YES

HDMI

NO

NO

YES





Notes & Other Guidelines

  • Processor – We recommend Intel over AMD processors because we feel they provide better performance, reliability, and compatibility.
  • Manufacturer – We have no strong preferences regarding brands but suggest families choose one which they have researched for durability and reliability or are comfortable with based on their own experience.  The HP and Lenovo brands shown above were selected merely as typical price point examples.  Apple computers with comparable specifications are also excellent, though typically, slightly more expensive options.
  • Retailers – Laptops are commodities whose prices change almost daily.  We strongly encourage families to shop around for the best pricing when they are ready to make a purchase.  Frequently, specific models being phased out are still excellent computers but may be steeply discounted.
  • USB – While most students store and exchange files with faculty and other students via cloud storage, we encourage families to choose devices which have some USB ports which not only allow the use of a thumb drive, but also facilitate the connection of external devices like keyboards and mice.
  • Microsoft Office – Students do NOT need to purchase Microsoft Office.  Their CM email account includes free access to the Office suite of products.
  • Antivirus Software – Every device connected to the internet should be protected by a reputable antivirus and internet protection product such as Norton 360.  It is very important that these products be kept up to date and active at all times.
  • Chromebooks and iPads  – While Chromebooks and iPads are good entry level computers for many students, we do not feel they meet the full range of needs of our students throughout their high school careers.  Consequently, we do not recommend their purchase.


Home Readiness Checklist

Not so long ago it seems, a single laptop or desktop computer with an attached printer in each home was more than enough to meet the needs of an entire family. A little juggling of schedules was adequate to overcome any conflicts that might arise among family members. In recent years, though, technology has become more central in completing homework and facilitating parents working from home, while at the same time, our homes and entertainment experiences have become far more internet dependent as well. Very recently, the remote working and learning requirements brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic have brought to the forefront the importance of being deliberate and thoughtful in planning our at-home technology environments. Ensuring that all family members have the appropriate spaces, technology, and capacity to complete their daily activities has been both essential and at times challenging.
 
To help address some of these challenges, here are a few simple guidelines for families to consider with respect to their home technology environments. While not an exhaustive list, the items listed below are some of the most important, and attention to them will provide the most benefit for all.
 
Internet Bandwidth
This is the single most important consideration. As more and more devices in the home share a single internet connection, the strain increases on available bandwidth as determined by the contract with your Internet provider (Verizon, Comcast, etc.). In particular, the increase in streamed video for remote classes and meetings places a high demand on bandwidth. To conserve bandwidth, consider turning off video when possible for meetings and classes and rely exclusively on audio. Turn off devices that are not necessary but may be consuming internet bandwidth, like streaming audio services. While not using a high amount of bandwidth, every little bit helps. Use an online application to test the speed of your internet connection. If you continue to experience poor performance on your device, it may be worthwhile talking to your provider about options to upgrade your service.
 
Wireless Coverage
Most households use wireless services to connect the many devices in the home to the internet. Frequently, though, your internet router does not provide good coverage throughout the entire house, and there may be many spots with weak or even no signal where it would be beneficial to use connected devices. A network extender can assist with this problem. These can be readily purchased through technology retailers, but their configuration and location are important to maximizing their usefulness. Poorly placed or configured extenders can actually worsen network performance, so be sure to get technical assistance from the retailer or your internet provider first. Also, be sure to enable access security features on your wireless network. You don’t want to be the internet provider for your neighbors.
 
Printing
Although more and more documents are exchanged and submitted electronically, printed copies of materials still play an important role in our lives. While having a multi-function device that can print, scan, and copy may seem like a luxury, it can be of great value in facilitating work and school activities. Most are now capable of wireless connection and can be placed anywhere with sufficient wireless signal. Consider placing it in a location that is accessible to all but where the noise will not disturb others in the household.
 
Charging Devices
Identify locations where your devices can be conveniently charged when not in use and, preferably, can be plugged in during extended use or overnight.

Comfortable Workspaces
A couch or bed may seem like a comfortable short-term location for completing some work, but it is not ideal for long stretches of sustained work or studying. Identify specific spaces where each family member can work which has good lighting; available power; sufficient space for textbooks, notebooks, and other resources; and comfortable ergonomics.
 
Sharing Devices
In a fully remote environment, everyone frequently needs to be working simultaneously. Each user will likely need his own device in order to complete work and assignments in a timely way, meet necessary deadlines, and participate in scheduled activities like classes, meetings, or webinars. Consequently, it is often simply impractical for family members to share computers.

FAQ

List of 18 items.

  • Are Apple products allowed or recommended?

    Yes. Apple products with specifications similar to those listed for Windows computers are acceptable options for students although they tend to be somewhat higher in cost.
  • Does my son need a separate calculator if he has a laptop?

    Most classes will now use online calculator and graphing tools in place of a traditional hand-held calculator. Some classes may require an inexpensive calculator like a TI-30 (about $18) for taking exams, and certain AP classes like AP Statistics and AP Calculus require the use of a graphing calculator (e.g. TI-84 or higher).
  • How long should a computer last?

    This depends on both the initial specifications of the computer when purchased and the care it receives during its use. Buying a more robust computer initially will often extend its lifetime for a few more years. Typically, laptops should last about three to five years on average.
  • How will you ensure that academic integrity is maintained since students can so easily exchange documents?

    While technology can facilitate cheating, this issue is not new. Cell phones and other devices have been a potential source of cheating for many years now, and to address it, Catholic Memorial has a clear code of ethics and stringent rules regarding academic integrity in our Student Handbook. In addition, technological resources like Turnitin.com provide faculty with additional tools to identify and discourage plagiarism and other inappropriate use of technology in the classroom. Failure to adhere to the policies will result in disciplinary action consistent with the guidelines of the handbook.
  • My son already owns a Chromebook or an iPad. Does that meet the requirements?

    Chromebooks and iPads are good, introductory computers for basic productivity tasks like word processing and web browsing, but we feel they are not robust enough to meet the needs of a student throughout his high school career. Consequently, we do not recommend their purchase. If, however, you already own one, it is acceptable to use until such time as it doesn’t meet the needs of the student or the technical requirements of a particular class.
  • Should I purchase an antivirus software subscription for the device?

    YES! Every device connected to the internet should be protected by a reputable antivirus and internet protection product such as Norton 360. It is very important that these products be kept up to date and active at all times.
  • Should we purchase an extended warranty or service contract for the device?

    This is generally an individual preference, but as a rule, we do not believe they provide sufficient value to warrant their cost.
  • We have more than one son at CM. Can siblings share devices?

    No. Since students will use the computer both for in-class work and homework assignments, each must have his own device.
  • What brand of computer do you recommend, and where should we buy it?

    We have no strong preferences regarding brands but suggest families choose one which they have researched for durability and reliability or are comfortable with based on their own experience. Also, since laptops are commodities whose prices change almost daily. We strongly encourage families to shop around for the best pricing when they are ready to make a purchase. Frequently, specific models being phased out are still excellent computers but may be steeply discounted.
  • What peripherals and accessories should I purchase?

    Students should have a webcam and microphone for their device. Additionally, they generally will find it beneficial to have earbuds and a USB drive.
  • What software should I purchase for my son to use in his classes?

    The basic software a student will need is Microsoft Office and a web browser. Office comes free to students with their CM-issued Office 365 account and Chrome is our recommended browser since it is the recommended browser for our Student Information System and online learning platform, onCampus. Additional software or licenses may be required for certain courses (e.g. AP Computer Science), and those typically will be specified as part of the book purchase for those courses or instructions will be given by the faculty to download the software if it is free to use.
  • What will my son use the computer for in class?

    From doing individual and group writing assignments to research projects to analyzing data and numerically solving mathematical equations to creating CAD designs of objects that can be 3D printed, the range of educational activities is almost limitless! Having every student in every class have access to a device provides faculty with tremendous flexibility for being creative in finding new and innovative ways to approach their disciplines.
  • Where do we go for technical support or hardware repairs?

    CM’s Information Technology department provides basic technical support to students. This includes troubleshooting connectivity issues to the school’s WIFI network or access issues to any of CM’s information resources like onCampus or Office 365. Because the computers are not school-owned, however, they are limited in the overall support they can provide for software issues, and they do not conduct any hardware repairs. Repairs should only be conducted by authorized repair facilities, particularly if a device is under warranty.
  • Where will my son store his files and how does he back them up?

    Each student receives free access to OneDrive cloud storage as part of his CM-issued Office 365 account. We strongly recommend that students be diligent about keeping their files in this space to minimize data loss. Files stored on the local hard drives of computers are more vulnerable in the event of a hardware failure. Any locally stored files, though, should be regularly backed up to a USB or other external storage device as a precaution.
  • Will my son be able to charge his computer during the school day?

    While there will be some classrooms and other locations throughout the school where students can plug in and recharge during the day, students will be expected to bring a fully-charged device to school each day. Batteries should be sufficient to last an entire school day in most cases.
  • Will my son be able to purchase e-textbooks in place of hardcopies of the book?

    This varies by class, but Catholic Memorial has committed to selecting only texts that have electronic versions available as new editions and new textbooks are selected for all of our courses.
  • Will my son need a printer at home and will printing be available at CM?

    While more and more assignments are being accepted and processed electronically, there is still a need for printed copies of materials. We strongly encourage you to have access to a printer at home. CM also provides student access to print facilities during the school day.
  • Will my son use the device every day in every class?

    While we strongly believe that appropriate use of technology in a classroom greatly enhances the educational experience, there are certainly activities and classes in which technology can be a distraction to the learning environment. Faculty in each class will ultimately make the determination when technology should and should not be used in their classroom.





About Us

Catholic Memorial, the Christian Brothers School of Boston, prepares boys for college, manhood and a world full of unknown challenges, ambiguity and complex problems and the importance of relationships.

CATHOLIC MEMORIAL SCHOOL

235 Baker Street
West Roxbury, Massachusetts 02132
Phone: 617-469-8000
Fax: 617-977-5689