Back to School

2017

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The Associated Press Got your own laptop or tablet? Bring it to class, many schools now say. Policies known as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) initially raised eyebrows among parents and teachers, who feared they would open the door to addictive video games and social media in class. But many of those skeptics are being won over, saying BYOD expands educational opportuni- ties, saves money and reduces technical headaches. "Initially, some parents and teachers were afraid the kids would be playing Mario Kart and other games in school," says Mike Cicchetti, coordinator for learning technologies in the Volusia County School District in Central Florida. "But we had a lot of meetings with parents before adopting the program, and that was very important.We really took the time to address community concerns early on." The district was an early adopter, starting its BYOD pro- gram in 2011. "We started by trying it in a few schools in the district.And it was so popular that we now have it in every single school. "It really opened up the world to teachers and students, allowing them to move away from work- sheets and give them more inter- active options," Cicchetti said. He said computer access can teach "global citizenship." "We tell families that they bought these devices for their children, but that it's important to teach them that there's much more value to what's in their hands than YouTube and games. "And they see their parents and grandparents using these tech- nologies to read and communi- cate," he explained. Districts that embrace BYOD policies usually put strict limits on what kids are permitted to do with their devices in school. And not all devices are welcome. In the Mamaroneck Union Free School District, in Westchester County, N.Y., for example, smart- phones are not among the devices approved for classroom use. "We want to make sure the stu- dents have a larger screen, so that they can write, diagram and access Google Classroom," said the district's superintendent, Robert Shaps. "But we do want students to have the flexibility to use the kind of device that best suits them." The district offer tablets or Chromebooks to those who do not have their own devices or who don't want to bring them to school. Proponents say the policy gives kids access to learning apps and more computer access, and that students often feel more comfort- able using the technology that they know best. Such programs are not without their problems. "The issues that come up are typical, and computer games in school are the least of it," says Rick Mayfield, principal of Pacheco Elementary School, a bilingual public school in San Luis Obispo, Calif. "I do spend a lot of time dealing with things like kids emailing mean things and stuff like that. But it's definitely worth it. "It gives kids a chance to learn about technology and coding, and it also helps educate them about what's appropriate....This is their world, so it's natural for it to also be a part of their education," Mayfield said. Having their own devices, he said, means kids "are comfortable with them and really want to work with them both at school and at home, as opposed to tradi- tional homework which is way less exciting to most kids." Shaps, in Mamaroneck, says: "Our high school is one of the few in the country with an open cam- pus.The students can come and go as they please. "This is an extension of that freedom, which helps students learn responsibility.We recognize that students are living in a digi- tal age, and BYOD helps students establish the foundations of digi- tal citizenship." Thursday, August 3, 2017 Goldsboro News-Argus — 27 into that energy and experience and get kids to help support technology?" Once trained,students tend to step up and become successful tech- nicians,he said. Schools use them for fixing techni- cal problems;setting up devices;cre- ating and maintaining websites; posting blogs;staff training and more. The Burlington schools have since expanded their program to elemen- tary and middle schools. The help desk operates as a club in the lower grades and as a class for older students.Teachers provide basic lessons,and require students to spend time troubleshooting issues and watching IT-related videos. "Students are the first level of defense"for the district's IT depart- ment,Villano said. The district modeled its program, which has attracted attention from schools around the country,after Apple's Genius Bar help desks,offer- ing tech help throughout the day. Students also lead professional development courses,and help teachers develop websites and les- son plans. Students in the high school class use their down time to work on more advanced technology projects. "It's been really useful for me," said recent graduate Katherine Ellis,who in addition to helping with computer repairs also worked on a documentary about the school's hockey team."I liked the challenge of it.If a student comes to you with a problem,you have to search for the solution.It was really good to be able to help the other students and teachers." Teachers love the program at Crane Middle School because they get immediate assistance,said Rangel.Before Crane schools started working with Generation Yes,staff members could either call the small IT department for help or wait until Fridays,when technicians would come. Now,teachers file a work order and Rangel assigns a student to look into it right away.Students in the year- long class help with log-in issues, download and install apps,merge devices with projection screens and more,she said. At Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix,some teachers prefer working with the students because they are less intimidating than the district's IT staff,said Tracy Mills,a Generation Yes adviser. "Sometimes,the students put it in simpler terms,"she said. Shadow Mountain's program, which operates as a club and a class, attracts kids who love technology as a hobby,and some who want to pur- sue it as a career,Mills said. Rangel said students in her school's program are often nervous at first about instructing their teachers,but soon become more comfortable."They can walk into a classroom with confi- dence and direct the whole class,or work one-on-one with teachers,"she said. Continued from 26 Student techs Many schools now urge students to bring their own screens to class with them Associated Press A student works on an e-book on an iPad in her second grade class at Jamestown Elementary School in Arlington, Va.

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