BCPS is working to provide all students with technology enriched learning opportunities. The current generation of students has grown up with technology and wants to use it in every aspect of their daily lives; including school. They have an expectation that the same technology they use at home will be available at school. Recognizing this demand and trying to meet it, BCPS has invested heavily in classroom and mobile learning technologies. Understandably, technology is a significant financial investment to keep pace with initial infrastructure and updating current infrastructure.
Leveraging digital technologies to improve student learning experiences is a key part in fulfilling the mission of Bay City Public Schools. Many students own devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, and ereaders that can supplement their learning, if used appropriately, in the classroom. The purpose of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative is to move further into the digital learning age by facilitating the safe and productive use of such devices and thereby empowering students to take more active ownership of their learning.
As with all technology initiatives, whether in industry or education, the goal is not simply to deploy the technology, but to harness its power to change or improve the environment in which the technology was launched. BCPS believes that the introduction of the BYOD program will fundamentally alter the learning environment, providing students with the opportunity to learn 21st Century skills that will enable them to be productive and informed citizens. Simply stated, the district’s goal is to alter the approach to education so that students learn to integrate technology into their educational endeavors. Incorporating student-owned mobile computing devices into the curriculum can help educators transform their direct instruction methods into project and inquiry-based learning opportunities. These learning opportunities allow students to learn by doing and to have ownership in their education. BCPS will use curriculum development teams to continue to improve technology-enhanced educational opportunities.
Why "BYOD" versus requiring every student to have the same digital device?
Access to technology should not be isolated to a place. It is designed to be mobile and specific to the user. Students like using their own personal devices. They become engaged in whatever it is that they’re doing with them — including classwork. Classwork becomes even more interactive when everyone has access to technology. Unlike a school-provided device, the personal device (and the desire to continue using it) goes home with the student. In this way, BYOD enables and fosters 24/7 access and learning. Because BCPS has web-based systems like Skyward Family Access, Accelerated Reader, Raz Kids and Front Row, the technology device that each student uses is less of an issue. Teachers currently use many different types of technology based tools and, for years, students have been using a wide range of devices on the BCPS network. In many respects, this is an evolution of what has been happening for years. Finally, because technology evolves and changes at a rapid pace it is not easy for districts to update technology as frequently to respond to the rapid changes.
What is the timeline for implementation of the BYOD program?
The implementation will begin this Fall (2015) for 3rd, 4th & 5th Grade. Teachers continue to seek out professional development in instructional technology practices. Elementary schools within the district continue to facilitate collaboration among teachers to determine which applications will be purchased and used within the classroom.
The district continues to update wireless infrastructure and monitors bandwidth to improve connectivity on all elementary campuses. Expansion of the BYOD program to Kindergarten through 2nd grade students will be evaluated based on the successful implementation of the BYOD program in grades 3-5.
Are students required to bring in a personally owned device, or is this optional?
Students are not required to bring in a personally owned device. It is optional. We consider a personally owned device to be just one more of many learning support materials like textbooks, pencils, notebooks, etc. that students can use to access learning resources.
Should I go out and buy my child a device?
Personally owned devices are a supplement to the equipment already in use in the classroom. BYOD is an optional program, and parents are not required to purchase a device for their child. However, parents who are considering technology purchases for their students may want to explore either mini I-pads for grade Kindergarten through 2nd grade or Google Chromebooks for 3rd through 5th grade. BCPS utilizes the Google platform for instructional technology through 12th grade.
Does my child need a device with a data plan?
No. In fact, those who have a data plan should not use it, but use the BCPS campus wi-fi instead if connecting to the Internet. Students will be provided with instructions on what steps to take to do that. The district does not want to use up minutes or memory on family data plans. In addition, having students connect through the district wi-fi means that appropriate filters will be in place.
What kind of professional development will be provided to instructional staff to make sure that BCPS is taking full advantage of digital devices in the classroom and that they are used appropriately?
While professional development for instructional staff is ongoing, BCPS has been preparing instructional staff with professional development topics, conferences, workshops, and more. Most of our instructional staff in the district have an iPad or Chromebook. BCPS is committed to providing a varied professional development program to support teachers in taking full advantage of what digital devices have to offer to empower teaching and learning. It is imperative that schools provide the tools and support necessary to alter pedagogy. Teaching and learning should happen differently with personal technology devices.
Pedagogy changes already are underway. In each of our BCPS schools, pedagogy is shifting because of the technology devices already in use. Collaborative communication tools have empowered student learning. Through the use of technology students are able to share and interact differently. Access to information is changing how teachers teach. In the past, classes were limited by a lack of information. Now all questions can be explored and students are eager to seek out answers. Communication structures within the schools are changing, as well. In the past, teachers and students sometimes had a difficult time communicating. Now, through e-mail, teachers and students are easily connected.
Did BCPS do research or gather input on the concept of BYOD before announcing implementation?
Yes. In fact, BCPS has moved cautiously into this initiative. The district deliberately chose not to be an early adopter of the use of personal electronic devices in the classroom (rather by way of BYOD or district provided devices). While other districts have moved forward, Bay City Public Schools has learned from their experiences and observed how they have handled issues that have arisen. This initiative was discussed much of last year at district meetings and at many-campus-level meeting such as Principal’s Coffees and PTA / PTO meetings.
What if a student’s device battery is out of power?
Students are expected to come to school each day with their devices fully charged. If there is a need to connect a device to a charger during class, most classrooms will be equipped with power strips for students to use if their battery is running low. Students are expected to use their devices in a way that conserves power so that they are available for use during classes. Students should be sure to charge devices at regular intervals as needed.
Will (Instructional Technology) IT personnel be available to troubleshoot and repair devices?
IT personnel are very limited in BCPS and their focus is primarily on district technology infrastructure. They will not be expected to fix broken devices or troubleshoot malfunctioning ones; those responsibilities are left to students and their parents.
How will the amount of screen time be monitored?
The BYOD initiative adds a tool to the teacher’s toolbox, and this type of instructional technology will be used when and if it can enhance learning (project based). The use of personal devices will not replace traditional instruction, but rather allow teachers to better connect with digitally literate students. Students will use devices for specific lessons, most of which will be planned by the teacher and, in some cases, communicated to parents (especially at the elementary level).
QUESTIONS ABOUT STUDENT SAFETY AND/OR THE DISTRICT’S INTERNET FILTER.
Where is wireless accessible at school?
The entire elementary campus has wireless network accessibility. In order to access the wireless system students will login using their individual, school provided, login access. Internet access is subject to the terms in the BCPS Responsible Use of Technology guidelines.
Can parents assume that students will have only safe Internet access and access to sites necessary for educational purposes?
In collaboration with the Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District, BCPS maintains a network security policy that is constantly being monitored.. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) imposes certain requirements on schools and libraries that receive discounts for Internet access or internal connections through the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications services and products more affordable for eligible schools and Media programs. One of those requirements is protection measures that block or filter Internet access to pictures that are: (a) obscene; (b) child pornography; or (c) harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors.) More information is available at: HTTP://WWW.FCC.GOV/GUIDES/CHILDRENS-INTERNET-PROTECTION-ACT.
What types of security do you run on BCPS’s network?
While the district doesn't divulge the full extent of its security efforts, industry-standard wireless security practices and protocols are followed, and the district stays up-to-date on all new developments and security threats.
QUESTIONS ABOUT MISUSE OF PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY DEVICES AT SCHOOL.
What are the consequences for misuse or inappropriate use of personal technology devices at school?
Personal mobile computing devices are part of the district’s overall technology initiative. As such, their use is subject to the district’s Acceptable Use of Technology Policy and the Student Code of Conduct, just like the use of other technology in the school.
How will students be kept from engaging in inappropriate use of digital devices?
The district has high expectations for student behavior within the Bay City Schools. Bay City teachers are among the most engaging and gifted professional educators in the field. The workload for students is significant. Off-task behavior of any kind is often self-correcting. The teacher can also, of course, tell students at any time to "close your device" to be sure that potential distraction is not available.
What safeguards are in place to prevent student behavior such as improper photography or viewing inappropriate material?
Teaching students to use devices responsibly will be an ongoing process. Disciplinary action related to inappropriate student use of technology is outlined in the BCPS Student Code of Conduct. Use of the Internet to download or view inappropriate websites is restricted by the same filters and firewalls used by students on BCPS desktops in classrooms and computer labs.
How will students be taught proper use of on-line material or the possibility of plagiarism?
This issue is not tied directly to the BYOD initiative, but has existed for many years as students use on-line resources for projects and academic work; how to determine a legitimate source is a part of which the district’s curriculum is built. In a global collaborative environment, students must learn how to do research appropriately and build collective knowledge responsibly. Some BCPS teachers use software that checks for plagiarism. This is an area that will continue to receive attention as our students develop their Digital Citizenship and 21st Century learning skills.
What protections will be put in place regarding the loss or theft of a device?
Personal electronic devices won’t be treated differently than any other personal property like textbooks, wallets, backpack, etc. At the elementary level, teachers will collect student devices and lock them in a secure cabinet, within the classroom, when not in use. If a device is lost or stolen building staff will investigate to attempt to learn more about the location of the device however staff are not responsible for cost associated with the lost or stolen device(s). Parents allowing their children to bring an electronic device to school are encouraged to transport the device to and from school in lieu of placing the device in the care of their child while riding the school bus to school.
QUESTIONS ABOUT TYPES OF PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY DEVICES.
What are the minimum hardware system specifications for student devices?
Many different types of devices qualify for inclusion in the BYOD initiative; tablets, lap top computers, ereaders are just some examples. The only requirement for a device that needs network access is that it be able to connect to our district’s secured Wi-Fi network.. The only requirement for a device that does not need network access is that it must have the potential for legitimate educational uses. Students and their parents must make reasoned and informed decisions about which devices may or may not be appropriate to bring to school. While the district does not endorse a specific product, district-purchased classroom tablets are iPads. District-purchased computers are generally Google Chromebooks.
If a student already owns a device, do they need a new one?
No, as long as the device is functioning properly and is able to connect to the District wireless network.
Who is paying for the devices?
The devices will be purchased and owned by families of students enrolled in Bay City Public Schools.
Are there any recommended and required accessories?
An extended warranty is strongly recommended. The district recommends theft and hazard insurance. (Warranties do not cover abuse, theft, or accidental damage.)
An external thumb drive or access to a cloud storage service like Google Drive, etc. for backing up files is recommended (learning to perform regular backups and how to restore from a backup are very important skills).
A protective case/sleeve is recommended like a backpack that has an internal, padded sleeve for protecting the device.
A headset or earbuds (for private listening) are required.
Are students expected to use the devices both at school and at home?
Yes. One of the goals of BYOD is ubiquitous and continuous access as a way to build information literacy. This means access to the learning tools on a device at home and school. Some homework assignments will require students to use a digital device, while other homework assignments will not.
What about students who are unable to afford digital devices?
BYOD is not mandatory but is encouraged for enriched learning experiences. For BYOD to really bring value to the classroom environment, all students must have access to devices. But the reality is that some students won’t have their own device or home Internet access. BCPS plans to solve this inequity by using a variety of approaches. Devices will be available for use in the classrooms for those students during the instructional day. The district will use the same procedures that are in place to support students who are unable to afford other essential school supplies.
May students install software on their devices?
Yes. If students have administrative rights to their devices, they may install their own applications, provided that such applications do not violate the BCPS's Acceptable Use of Technology policy. It is always recommended that software downloads and updates are downloaded and run at home as a way to prevent network congestion and slowdowns.
What software do students need on their devices?
Anti-virus protection is required for all computers running the Mac or Windows operating systems. Free versions of anti-virus software are available for both Mac and PC.
A web browser (ex. Google Chrome) is required. It is good practice to have access to two or more browsers on a digital device.
Many of the tasks that students will perform on a regular basis may require additional free software or apps that teachers will suggest.
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