Holliston High School implements a BYOD program of technology. BYOD is an acronym for "Bring Your Own Device." In order to be successful, students should bring their own laptop device to school each day, charged and ready to use. Students will find that they use their devices frequently, to work on projects, to participate in class activities, and even for their own note-taking and productivity.
Appropriate devices are laptop-style computers with a screen-size of 10 inches or larger. A physical, built-in keyboard is also essential, since students are frequently required to create short or long writing samples in class. The device can be based on Windows, OSX, Chrome, or Linux, and should have wifi capability and good battery life. Experience has shown that most tablets are not useful in classes, since their browsers are often incompatible with the school's Google Apps suite, and frequently do not run Flash or Java software.
Families can decide what type of device they desire and can afford. Although higher-end laptops can cost more, there are many inexpensive devices that are perfectly suitable. Families who qualify for free or reduced lunch can apply to borrow a laptop for the school year.
A major feature of BYOD is that students (and teachers) can choose which apps and software fulfills their needs at a given time. For example, some students might use Microsoft Excel to create and edit a spreadsheet, while others might use Google Sheets. The guiding assumption is that most incoming 9th graders have enough computer skill to make appropriate decisions about software and apps as the situation warrants.
That said, sometimes it is useful and helpful for students and teachers to be familiar with a common set of apps, so that they can work together. For example, Holliston High School uses the Google Apps suite (see Google Apps Brochure for Parents) in most classes for document creation and sharing. Below is a set of apps that work well on Chromebooks and laptop computers (using the Google Chrome browser).