Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bring Your Own Technology - to School

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) in North Carolina will offer wireless Internet access in all schools starting this August.The district, which includes over 141,000 students and 159 schools, is joining a national trend called BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology), according to the Charlotte Observer.

According to school leaders, it's the system's "best hope for getting some 140,000 students up to speed on digital learning." Rather than focusing efforts only on buying laptops for students and Smartboards for the classroom, the move will also support the use of personal digital devices that they bring into the school. Devices include tablets, e-readers and smart phones, something that the system can't afford for everyone.

The district is using federal and state funds to pay for the wireless system, and they have requested an additional $1.3 million from the county to hire a technology facilitator for 23 high schools. Additionally, $1.2 million was spent to equip school administrators with iPads and TeachScape apps, a classroom observation software.

These changes are significant. Citing a desire to move into the "real world," school officials and teachers have their work cut out for them. As the article says, "A BYOT environment poses plenty of challenges, from preventing theft and damage to making sure students use their devices for learning, not for playing Angry Birds or cheating on exams."

We as parents have to be as involved as possible in this process, teaching our children at young ages to be responsible digital citizens. I certainly hope that the school system is investing in programs that do that as well.

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