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BYOD to Grade School: What Teachers and Parents Are Saying.

If you’ve ever considered sending your child off to school with a $400 laptop in hand, you’re among the 70 percent of parents polled who enthusiastically embraced the idea.

BYOD, or bring your own device, has been the goal of progressive school administrators across the country for the past several years. As early as 2009, the idea was being implemented in schools like the Katy Independent School District in Texas to help offset the costs of providing students access to 21st-Century technology.

What is Bring Your Own Device?

Schools that implement this policy encourage students to bring their own mobile devices into the classroom for academic purposes. Children, usually in grades eight and higher, are permitted to carry a range of devices including:

  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Netbooks
  • Smart Phones

Using their own electronics, students connect to the school’s wireless network to access educational software and programs to complete school assignments.

Are Teachers On Board?

According to surveys conducted three years into the program by Katy Independent School District administrators, approximately 33 percent of the 1609 teachers who responded were actually implementing the BYOD system in their classrooms. Another 46 percent were willing, but hesitant because not all students came from middle-to-upper-income families who could afford this technology.

There were a few glitches that teachers at KISD and around the country encountered early on. Not all students had access to mobile devices, and teachers lacked the time to change their curriculums over to digital format

Surprisingly, the distraction factor didn’t figure into complaints that teachers had regarding the introduction of mobile technology in the classroom. Instructors were more concerned with the fact that they didn’t have sufficient time to seek out and test beneficial apps and programs that could have complemented their curriculum.

What About the Parents?

According to statistics published at in September of 2012, approximately 70 percent of parents polled would consider buying a mobile device for their child in grades 9-12 to use in an academic setting. The percentage dropped a bit as the ages of the children declined — 69 percent of parents said they would buy a device for their child in grades 6 – 8, while only 63 percent were willing to provide their child in grades K-5 with mobile technology.

The parents surveyed suggested using the technology in the following ways:

  • To access curriculum and textbooks from home
  • To receive daily updates on their child’s academic performance
  • To track their child’s grades
  • To receive alerts when their child is performing under par
  • To access updates, podcasts and videos from their child’s teacher

What Are the Kids Learning?

The availability of educational apps for the classroom encompasses a never-ending range of subjects. Granting kids access to their digital devices at school lets them hone skills in mathematics, public speaking, presentation-giving and more using a variety of applications:

  • Blackberry Academic Program: Free enrollment in the Blackberry Academic Program gives schools and high school students instant access to software development materials through Blackberry. This app focuses on enhancing students’ computer science and engineering skills.
  • Ponder: Ponder saves and creates math equations. It’s intuitive and shareable, allowing young mathematicians to save assigned equations, create new equations of their own and to share them via screenshots with other students.
  • Nutribiochem: Designed with biology in mind, Nutribiochem assists students who are learning about the chemical processes of metabolism and nutrition.

All of these educational apps and more are available for free download through Blackberry World.

Author: Raymond Riley
After 27 years in a classroom, Raymond retired from education to get busy in the grandparenting business. When he’s not spoiling his three granddaughters, he blogs about issues in education and technology.

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