Parkway to roll out ‘Bring Your Own Device’ program to all secondary schools
By: Carol Enright
Three months into its “Bring Your Own Device” pilot, Parkway School District officials and students report that the program has gone better than expected. In August, the district began allowing students at its North High and Central Middle schools to bring their own personal computing devices to school and connect to the Internet through the district’s wireless network. At the Nov. 14 Board of Education meeting, Tom Swoboda, coordinator of instructional technology, updated the Board on the pilot program.
Swoboda said that 20-25 percent of students are using their devices in school, 65 percent of middle school students surveyed said that having a device in class helped them learn, and 10 percent of students said they do not have a device to bring to school. Swoboda said the district is looking into addressing this last comment by possibly allowing students without their own computing devices to check out devices owned by the district.
Smartphones are the device of choice – with 40 percent of students in the pilot choosing to bring one to school – followed by tablets, iPads, iPods, laptops and regular cellphones.
After his presentation, Swoboda introduced the Board to a panel of middle and high school students who have been participating in the pilot. The students told the Board that they primarily use their devices to take notes in class, look up things on the Internet and play games during free time.
Superintendent Keith Marty asked the students if they thought bringing in their own computing devices has made them more motivated and engaged students.
“I think it’s easier because I’m a very slow writer, and a lot of the time the class is waiting for me to finish up. So the one thing I can do is I can just take a picture of it and do it later,” said Emily Miller, an eighth-grader at Central Middle.
“I think that it keeps me more organized and tells me what I need to do, instead of not having my own device,” said Carly Lander, who is also in the eighth grade at Central Middle.
In an interview after the meeting, Carly’s mother, Lori Lander, agreed.
“She’s more organized than she’s ever been,” said Lander.
North High freshman, Andy Zhang, said using his own device is “really swift.”
“It actually makes my work a lot more efficient,” he said. “Probably something that would take me an hour writing by hand would probably take me 15 minutes typing, at most.”
Zhang called the school laptops “dinosaurs.”
“I think bringing in our own devices is so much better. It’s much more secure with our data, too,” Zhang added.
Board President Beth Feldman asked Ryan Boeckman, a science teacher at Central Middle, whether the devices have been distracting students in class.
Boeckman said he viewed devices in the classroom as “just another teaching opportunity.”
“It’s our job as educators to teach them to use that power in the right way,” said Boeckman.
Cameron Schoene, a freshman at North High, told the Board he brings his iPad everywhere.
“What would you say if I told you you couldn’t bring your iPad to school anymore?” Feldman asked.
“I’d cry,” Schoene said with a chuckle.
Parkway rolled out its “Bring Your Own Device” program to all of its middle and high schools on Dec. 3.