Computers and Tablets
All boys at Eton need to have a device with which they can read e-mails, access the internet and read and create documents. Whilst many people have strong opinions on what technology is best, we offer here some basic information. This is intended as an aid to any decision you take with regards to a purchase and not as a recommendation for any particular product.
Eton has a strong computing provision; the entire campus is connected to a high speed network, with wireless access in all rooms in boarding houses and a growing number of schoolroom areas. Our internet connection is filtered to limit access to unsuitable material, and turned off after bedtime. Computing forms an integral part of the curriculum for boys in F Block. School events are advertised via e-mail and a boy will use IT daily for work and administration.
Our principal curricular interest is to ensure that every boy is computer literate and able to use technology to enhance his learning across the school curriculum. Computing lessons take place during the first year and the main objective is to equip boys with an initial grounding in 21st century skills relating to the effective use of online tools and cloud services as well as the development of online research and organisational skills. The course also covers social networking, privacy control, online copyright issues and provides an introduction to programming.
A growing number of boys are choosing to take tablet computers into lessons for research and note-taking purposes. The minimum requirement is a simple tablet computer which can be purchased for under £100. Many boys however prefer a better-quality device, or wish to have a small tablet to carry around and a separate laptop which usually stays in their room. If only a tablet is used, we strongly advise the purchase of a separate keyboard as typing work of any length on a touch screen rapidly becomes tedious. Space in most boys’ rooms is quite limited, so a large desktop computer is usually not the best option. There is no need to provide your son with a printer – documents can be printed in School Library and other locations around the school.
Warranty arrangements for the repair of a computer that has mechanically failed can save time and money, unfortunately most standard warranty repair arrangements are "Collect and Return" and only last a year, which means that if the machine does fail it will need to go away for repair instead of having an engineer come to your son’s computer. You may wish to consider purchasing an enhanced warranty for your son’s machine, especially if you live far from Eton and cannot easily replace it should a problem arise whilst he is at school. You may also wish to consider accidental damage insurance, which covers everything that mechanical failure warranties do not. Cracked screens, damage to the machine because it was dropped, or spills of water or sticky drinks are not covered under standard warranties and can leave a machine "beyond economical repair".
The latest technology is always changing, but there are review groups online which can guide you through which technology is best and which is better value even if it isn't the latest, fastest gadget. www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews is one place you might start to see what is currently on the market.
There are no restrictions on which operating system should be installed on your son’s computer or tablet. Eton College uses PCs running Microsoft Windows for most of its teaching and administration functions, but also has suites of Apple Macintosh computers for teaching music technology, art and design.
Microsoft Office products are widely used and boys need to be able to read files created with Word (.doc or .docx), Excel (.xls or .xlsx) and PowerPoint (.ppt or .pptx). They should also to be able save work in at least the first of these formats. Microsoft Office Student Edition, which retails for approximately £100 from online outlets such as Amazon, and free Open Source products such as Open Office, which can be downloaded from the internet, will meet these requirements for laptop computers – the free products lack some of the sophisticated tools of the Microsoft equivalents, but are more than adequate for school use. There are also online tools and many apps for Apple and Android tablets which enable files in these common formats to be read and edited easily.
We highly recommend the installation of an Anti-Virus product on any laptop computer. All operating systems are vulnerable to software viruses and other malicious software. Microsoft offer a free Anti-Virus product for Windows computers called Microsoft Security Essentials and there are a wide range of products available for Apple computers; although less susceptible than PCs, these have been subject to worrying attacks in recent years.
COMPUTER SUPPORT AT ETON
On arrival at Eton, the device you have provided for your son should be able to connect to our wireless internet system (“WiFi Café”) without further formalities. Instructions will be provided on arrival to enable him to access his school e-mail and download the Eton security certificate which will ease his access to some secure websites through our firewall.
The IT Department will offer help and advice to boys who encounter problems connecting to the network and any of the resources provided by the school and we are always happy to try to help with other IT issues as far as we are able. The department is also able to assist with warranty calls by acting as a collection and return point or a place for an engineer to visit, but your son will need to deliver his computer to the IT Department and we need to be told what action is required prior to the courier/engineer arriving.
If you have any questions about these matters, please contact the IT Department at our email address: ITAssist@etoncollege.org.uk, or our main telephone number 01753 671428.