Bring your own device scheme launches at school

BYOD is now being trialed at a U.S. school as a pilot program.

Bring your own device (BYOD) schemes remain contentious in both educational and business networks.

In schools, who pays for theft, loss or damage? Can schools force parents to pay for devices as well as the yearly bill of school uniform and text books?

Are parents happy with the prospect of their children taking expensive products in to school, where damage is possible?

Other issues remain at the forefront -- such as causing an additional social divide between the 'haves' and 'have nots'. Forget being teased for clothing choices, now, perhaps it is because the child cannot afford the next-gen iPad, or the phone they have is only an old Nokia.

However, there are benefits to BYOD schemes. Schools unfortunately often have to tailor learning materials and plans to the tools that are affordable -- and in the current economy, budgets are shrinking. If students are already equipped with tablets, computers and smart devices, then this technology can be used in order to promote an active and interactive learning environment.

In one of the first pilot programs recorded, a school in Chatham, Illinois has decided to trial a 'bring your own device' policy over a two-month period.

47 fifth-graders at Glenwood Intermediate School are participating in the 8-week trial. For the remainder of the school year, the students will be able to conduct web searches, create Power Point presentations, use apps and study through e-readers rather than print media.

School officials say the point of the program is to shift students in to a more modern learning environment, and remove the limitations of school budgets in order to accommodate the change.

As the school is unable to fund an iPad or phone for every student, Glenwood sent out a survey to gauge how many students could bring their own devices from home. The results were positive; 38 out of 47 could bring an iPad, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, laptop, Nook Color or other tablet device, and the school would furnish the remainder.

The principal, Jill Larson, said:

"We're taking baby steps to see how well this is going to work. We're not going to give up on pen and paper, but we recognize it's more important than ever to integrate technology."

It is not only students that are keen to try out the idea. One teacher, for example, has plans to use the devices to enrich his astronomy classes later in the year. Using an app called Solar Walk, he will be able to utilize 3D virtual planetary models for students to learn about the solar system more visually than simply glossing though textbooks.

However, certain rules have been put in place in order to control the student's use of their gadgets -- such as limiting their web browsing in order to focus on the task at hand.

If any of the students break the rules, then they understand that they will be barred from bring in their devices. It can be assumed that in this case, they would have to share with another student.

In order to combat gadgets being stolen, the devices are locked in a cabinet during breaks, lunch and classes where the devices are not required.

The difficult part of this scheme is making sure such device use is controllable, and make sure students are still developing their critical thinking skills rather than relying on technology to complete tasks for them. After the pilot program has been concluded, the school will decide whether the benefits of BYOD schemes are worth keeping the devices in class, or whether again left at home.

If it is successful, the program will be expanded to other fifth-grade classrooms and other grades in the future.

(via SJR)

Image credit: Incase