The Bring Your Own Device [BYOD] program is tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of term one after being pushed back from its intended start time at the beginning of 2018-2019 school year.
According to Instructional Technology Specialist Brian Calnan, the decision was made by the district to ensure the transition to the new program was as seamless as possible.
“A lot of teachers and students are already bringing devices to use in the classroom, but as of right now we don’t have [BYOD] officially in place,” Calnan said. “The main reason [the date was pushed] was that we just want to make sure that it is as productive and as smooth of a transition into the official implementation of it as possible. That means making sure parents are clear on what the expectations are, students are clear, teachers are clear, and that everyone knows what support is available.”
According to principal Dr. Sara Pragluski Walsh, the delayed start was also due to to determining the details of how students will be able to access a device if they are not able to bring one to school daily.
“We need to be really sensitive to all of the different needs of our students,” Walsh said. “Some of them don’t have access to a device, or some of them have a device but they don’t have internet at home, so if we go 100 percent to Bring Your Own Device without clearly defining the needs of the children, how to meet those needs and other parameters, then we haven’t done the pre-work so that the program will successful.”
Currently, different groups such as the school based leadership team, department chairs, administration, the technology department and the central office are doing research as to how other districts have implemented their own BYOD program.
“There are a couple of different groups that wanted to investigate different aspects of [the program] and do even more research on surrounding towns and districts and see how they handled certain aspects of it, just to be proactive so we don’t have as many difficulties when we’ve started,” Calnan said.
In addition, the district had ensured that the school has access to a sufficient amount of equipment in order to implement the program.
“We ordered extra devices,” Walsh said. “[Technology systems administrator Susan] Whalen was able to order extra chromebooks and make sure that when we do the MCAS online we had all of those, and we had infrastructure upgrades. We’ve made sure that we have the equipment based on what we think are the student needs for a loaner program.”
Over the summer, the technology department worked on making sure the school was equipped to handle the influx of devices.
“We did have an infrastructure upgrade over the summer,” Whalen said. “We also doubled our bandwidth from FIOS that we are getting. Bandwidth is how much internet you can get. It’s like a a water through a pipe, and our pipe doubled in size, so that we could get more traffic at the same time.”
Once the plan is officially implemented, students will be required to bring their own devices, as discussed at the end of last year.
“The purpose of [BYOD] is to allow teachers flexibility, knowing that they are going to have students with devices and design lessons and curriculum that will utilize [technology] and make the lessons more engaging and make the learning deeper,” Calnan said. “In terms of what the plan looks like for [the technology department], it’s making sure that students have access to devices, primarily their own, and supporting teachers and to train them on how to help build that curriculum into their lessons.”