By Noelle H. Lowery
Experts agree that by 2016 every K-12 student will be using a mobile device in the classroom — and not for checking their FaceBook pages.
Just ask Dr. Jory Westberry. “Students today are more technologically savvy than we are,” says the principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary School. “For examples, even some of our five and six year olds have their own phones and other devices.”
That’s why Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) began implementing the Bring Your Own Device program in area schools last fall. Dubbed BYOD, the program allows students — with the guidance of their classroom teachers — to bring their own mobile devices to school to tap into the power and resources of the world-wide web while at school. According to the district’s website, local education officials “envision a learning environment where technology is a part of us, not apart from us.”
The program was launched in a handful of schools in August 2013: Barron Collier, Everglades City, Golden Gate, Gulf Coast, Lely and Lorenzo Walker Technical high schools; Immokalee and Manatee middle schools; and Golden Terrace, Pelican Marsh and Sea Gate elementary schools. Starting this month, TBE also is part of the program, which will start in fifth-grade classrooms and be gradually phased into the other grades.
Students will access the internet through the CCPS BYOD wireless network, which will provide filtered internet access as well as access to some other district systems and resources. Any and all access also may be monitored for the purposes of network security and student safety. Students will use their mobile devices to help with projects, research, response to assessments, classroom collaboration and presentations.
In preparation for the second phase of implementation, the district’s Instructional Technology Specialists have been working with the staff at each school on a variety of BYOD websites and apps. “We’ve had several training sessions on various programs that can be used in their classrooms,” explains Westberry. “We had meetings as a staff to determine our transition schedule, where and when technology may be used and which priorities we ‘tackle’ first.”
At TBE, technology already has been heavily integrated into classrooms, and the BYOD program will enhance this. “The biggest difference is the level of engagement for students. When technology is used, whether a Mimio lesson, a classroom flip, Edmodo, Prezi, or any of a myriad of programs and possibilities, students stop and listen and learn,” Westberry adds.
Here are some of the districts favorite apps that work well across all subject areas and grade levels:
• Edmodo allows the teacher to set up a safe and closed social media environment where teachers and their students can post moderated text, attachments, links and polls.
• Educreations allows both teachers and students to create quick and easy videos by recording voice while drawing the concept being explained
• Padlet allows students to post moderated images, links and text on a virtual bulletin board created by the teacher.
According to Westberry, schools face two major challenges in implementing BYOD. First is making certain parents have properly registered their students to participate in the program. Parents must carefully read, review and digitally sign the “Responsible Use Policy” with their children. It can be found online on the district’s website. Parents have to log into the Parent Portal from the website, select BYOD, read and agree to the “Responsible Use Policy” and watch the BYOD Parent Approval Process Video.
Second is making certain every child has access to a mobile device in the classroom. TBE is accepting donations of used mobile devices, but more are needed.
“We haven’t had a big response,” notes Westberry. “But, (we) are hoping that when people update their devices, they remember us for their used ones.”
Approved BYOD Mobile Devices Internet enabled devices that can connect to the CCPS’s wireless network, including:
• iPod Touch
• Other tablet computing devices
• Netbook or notebook
Registering Your Child for BYOD
• Login to the Parent Portal from the District Website.
• Select BYOD.
• Read and agree to the Respon-sible Use Policy to enroll your child in the program.
• Click on the link for a step-by-step video that will lead you through the process. BYOD
Parent Approval Process Video
• If you have forgotten your ID or do not have a login to the Parent Portal, you will need to go to your child’s school to obtain this. Be sure to bring an ID with you.