HAYSVILLE – School funding shortages coupled with rapidly changing technology have prompted the Haysville school district to discuss a Bring Your Own Device policy.
BYOD is a program in which staff and students can bring their own personal computing devices – cell phone, iPad, iTouch, laptop, Kindle, etc. – on campus and connect them to the school’s wireless network to access the Internet.
“There’s a lot to consider, but the reason this is such a big deal across the country is schools our size don’t know how we can keep up otherwise,” said Lisa Cundiff, Haysville Public Schools director of instructional technology. “In the old days schools could buy an Apple IIGS, a desktop or a PC, and you were good to go for a while. Now I go to sleep; every morning I think, ‘Let me just go see what new devices are available.’”
Cundiff said the cost is prohibitive for districts the size of Haysville, Goddard, Maize and Derby. Purchasing new technology – which is rapidly obsolete and when different tasks call for different devices – for more than 5,000 students is not feasible.
“It’s hard to justify the expense for the return on investment, with such rapid changes,” she said. “Technology is so personal now, too. Your own device has your stuff on it, set up the way you want. Plus, looking at the secondary level, 91 percent of kids we surveyed had Internet access at home. We’re just trying to leverage devices they already have.”
Cundiff said there are three primary considerations in technology: access, use and impact.
“You can’t impact education or achievement if you don’t have access,” she said. “With BYOD we can harness what kids already have. It’s about gaining access for kids – this solution saves money, fits kids, and frees up money for other uses.”
Three concerns that have popped up in response to BYOD are possible theft of personal devices, how to handle someone who may not have a personal device to use and technology support necessary.
“Families must stress the responsibilities their children have when bringing their own computing devices to school,” Cundiff said. “Any devices students bring to school are their sole responsibility.”
She said children who do not have devices will not be penalized or excluded from participating in activities.
“Learning can be enhanced greatly for the entire class even if only a handful of students have a device,” she said.
Cundiff said the devices access district web-based applications. This requires a wireless network throughout the buildings, increased bandwidth and support and training for the teachers.
She said those would be needed regardless.
“We have to figure out a way to adapt,” she said. “In the old model of teaching, teachers thought they had to have all the answers. Now they have to be comfortable being facilitators, helping kids discover, instead of just teaching what they know.”
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