Wake schools testing student 'bring-your-own-device' program
Posted December 8, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Schools have been infusing classrooms with technology for years, but the adoption of smartphones, tablets and laptops has been slow.
In the Wake County Public School System, that's changing.
Brier Creek Elementary School is one of 13 schools in the district that is implementing, over the next two months, a pilot program that encourages students to bring such devices to aid in their daily learning.
It's called BYOD – bring your own device – and since it launched last week at Brier Creek, fifth-grade teacher Anna Hayes says she's already seeing a difference in students' attitudes when it comes to learning.
"The kids love it," she said. "I feel like they are more engaged. I think they are more excited about what we do in class. Even though they are doing the exact same thing, it's amazing how them doing it on a device makes them much more excited."
Students use their devices in groups, so those who do not have their own or whose parents have opted not to participate in the program are not left out.
The school also has tablets and other devices for students to borrow, but there are usually limitations, such as how long a student can use a device. When students bring their own from home, they can use them all day long.
"It's is teaching kids that technology just isn't about social (media)," Hayes said. "It's really teaching them how to get those 21st century skills and incorporate that into their learning."
But it goes beyond getting students eager to learn, says Marlo Gaddis, Wake schools' senior director of Instructional Technology and Library Media Services.
"What they were most excited about is that they were able to do group work and work collaboratively together," she said. "I think that's what the big message is. This is not about bringing the devices to schools, it's about understanding what good instruction with technology is so that we are honoring that instructional time but moving our kids forward."
When students are not using them, they have to store them in their backpacks, lockers or other places designated by the teacher.
What they look at is also limited.
The school system's secure Wi-Fi network prevents students from accessing inappropriate websites, as well as social media sites, such as Facebook.
In addition to Brier Creek Elementary, four other schools – Lake Myra Elementary School in Wendell; Cary High School in Cary; Vernon Malone College and Career Academy; and Wake NC State STEM Early College High School in Raleigh – are adopting the program this month.