(Sedalia Democrat (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 02--The Bring Your Own Device program is still in its first year in the Sedalia School District 200, and so far it is a successful work in progress.
The program was introduced at the beginning of the school year and allows students at Smith-Cotton High School and Junior High to bring smart phones, tablets, laptops, mini-notebooks and iPod Touches for educational purposes when teachers permit it. Teachers are still working to implement the new program into their classrooms, but many are allowing students to use devices for on the spot research.
"One of the main things (students) want to do is research right then in class, so if a teacher is talking about a certain topic they can go do further research, if they don't understand something," said Dana Bohon, a library aide and Library Media Skills class teacher at SCHS. "They want that ability to research right at that moment."
Freshman science teacher Ashley Raetz said she uses devices as a research tool in her biology classes, but has also tried to incorporate BYOD a little further.
"I've used QR codes, where the class comes in and we did an activity the previous day and I wanted to go over responses to make sure they had the correct answers," she said. "When they came in as I took roll they scanned the QR code on the board and the answers popped up on their device. They were able to correct their paper and modify their answers while I was getting roll. Then we were able to discuss it without students getting sidetracked with them writing things down."
Raetz also uses My Big Campus, a new online program the district started using this year. She uploads PowerPoints or other documents used in class, and students can download the app and review the slides on their device.
Becky Brownfield, instructional technology specialist, said a lot of teachers are using MBC this year. Math teachers are uploading instructional videos so students can watch the video while doing homework, and many use it for assignment submissions. One SCHS teacher has gone completely paperless, using MBC for posting documents and accepting assignments.
The district has a BYOD focus team, comprised of teachers from both schools that wanted to help implement the program this year. Brownfield works with the group and said the feedback has been "amazing."
"One of the teachers said 'I like the students can use their devices without fear,'" she said. "Another said it 'increases student interaction with text more than anything else.' In general, it helps students be a little more self-sufficient."
There aren't exact numbers on how many students bring devices to school, but Brownfield sent out a survey regarding the program to all students last week. Results of the survey are expected in about a month. Both Raetz and Bohon said the majority of their students bring devices; Bohon said she would guess about 80 percent. The main device used is a smart phone, and only a handful of their students bring a laptop or tablet.
Raetz said she handed out her own survey at the beginning of the year to determine who would be bringing a device and she quickly realized she would need lesson plans for both students with and without a device.
"Technology is important, an important tool for students to learn. Obviously it's hard when not 100 percent of your students have a device," Raetz said. "You can't require it. It's kind of a struggle for a lot of the teachers right now but I think it has great potential.
"I would like to use it more and more each year, in more of a structured format. ... I'd like to be able to build my lesson plan around using the device, but not until every student has one is that going to be possible."
Brownfield hosted several workshops last summer and throughout the school year to help train teachers and to work with them on integrating BYOD, and more are planned in the coming months and this summer.
"I think we've had a good majority of our teachers at least try it, play with it," Brownfield said. "The focus team has really gone in depth with it. I think some of our other teachers are here and there, letting (students) look something up real quick. As we continue training and progress through the program I think we'll see more and more instructional strategies with it."
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