BYOD to be piloted at two Hamilton schools [Hamilton JournalNews, Ohio]
(Hamilton Journal News (OH) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 23--Two Hamilton schools will pilot an imitative that will enable students to use any electronic device to enhance their learning in the classroom.
Zach Vander Veen, the district's technology director, said "Bring Your Own Device" will be piloted starting in the second semester this year at Hamilton High School and at the Hamilton Freshman School.
Vander Veen said that the BYOD initiative is interactive education that includes differential instruction where students can use their own laptops, smart phones, eReaders, iPads and tablets. He said the only requirement is that the devices have a modern web browser.
"Engaged learners are better learners and portable devices make learning a part of the students' lives," he said.
Many of the students at both schools already have access to these devices, he said. Vander Veen said 59 percent of the Freshman School students and 66 percent of the high school students have some type of smart phone. About 89 percent of the Freshman School students and 90 percent of high school students have a computer or tablet, while 86 percent of the Freshman School students and 88 percent of the high school students have home Internet access, he said.
Vander Veen said the initiative is cost effective as it allows the district to work toward a 1 to 1 device ratio without incurring the costs of such a program. He also said there was some costs to the district, such as upgrading and expanding its Wi-Fi network as well as purchasing electronic devices for students who may not have their own device.
The district has been laying out the groundwork during the past few months to prepare for the pilot program such as expanding the Wi-Fi networks in both buildings and updating the district's acceptable use policy for electronic devices, he said.
Vander Veen said there will be zones in each building, Red, Yellow and Green, that determines where and when these devices can and cannot be used in the buildings. For example, locker rooms, restrooms, nurse's offices would be in the Red Zone; Classrooms, labs, auditoriums, if authorized by the person in authority, would be in the Yellow Zone; while the hallways between class changes, the cafeteria and common areas would be in the Green Zone.
Chase Engel, a senior at Hamilton High School said this initiative would allow students to get hands-on experience with these devices. While many students know how to use the devices, Engel said he wants someone to guide him.
"I think this is a great opportunity for the district," he said.
Board Member George Jonson said he may use his iPad several times in the evening to do some instant research while he's watching television.
Board President Glenn Stitsinger said the district has state of the art schools and have the technology available, something other district don't have. He said this initiative also enables the district additional support to help teachers.
"I think this is a big step forward," he said. "There will be some bumps in the road, but I have confidence in the administration."
"I'd like to acknowledge Zach's leadership and vision as he has worked with administrators and teachers to lay the necessary groundwork to move our district forward in this new and important direction," said Superintendent Janet Baker.
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