You might have to do a double-take when you see Neuse Charter School promoting BYOD.
To those tech savvy people this acronym is nothing new, but to those scratching their heads it means Bring Your Own Device...as in laptop, tablet or smartphone…and the staff at Johnston County’s only charter school is encouraging it among their student body.
Brad Williams, Neuse Charter’s technology and communication specialist, announced the program to elementary school parents during the school’s open house in mid-August. “We piloted the program some in the middle and high school last year,” he said.
NCS uses Google Chromebooks in many of their classes, but with a student population near 900 and only a little more than 200 Chromebooks, the faculty and staff are looking at other ways to ensure students are keeping up with the ever changing technology environment and those studies that depend on it.
“To get as much adoption as possible we are casting the net wide,” Williams said, describing what type of devices are welcome in the classroom. “The only stipulation we really have is that students are working of at least a seven inch screen.”
The school uses Google apps in the classrooms so that everything is standardized…and free to students. Williams admits that some programs may be faster or perform better based on the project, but in order for students to be able to work in the classroom and at home using the same platforms the school finds Google apps a good resource.
Teachers vary in how they are incorporating the BYOD principle into their classrooms.
“It comes down to how teachers want to involve it in their classrooms,” Williams said.
Lisa Morgan, the 4th grade science and social studies teacher, is excited to begin using this program in her classroom.
“There will be many ways that we will be using technology in our classrooms,” Morgan said. “Some of the activities will be research, creating presentations (Google slides or PowerPoint), Moby Max, and lots of other great apps or educational websites.”
Right now Morgan and other 4th grade teachers are teaming up to see how they can use the BYOD concept in their classrooms and will be sending letters home to parents to encourage participation. “Since we do not have enough devices for every student, using their own devices will help ensure that each student will be able to use these resources,” Morgan said.
For parents that might be worried their child already gets too much ‘screen time’ at home, Principal Sharon Johnson explains the importance of this program in school.
“Screen time is different,” said the elementary school principal. “There is a state of absorbing and then there is a state of interacting and learning. I count that as interactive education.”
Johnson said with all the educational resources available it just makes sense to have students working on their own devices.
“They are working on state-of-the-art technology in middle and high school, we want that for our elementary students as well,” she said.
The school also has several safety precautions in place to ensure students online activity is closely monitored and reported when necessary while on school premises. Johnson and Williams can address any issues within a matter of minutes.
“We are really excited to roll this out to our elementary students,” Johnson said. “We know some parents might be worried about the devices getting damaged, and you know your child best, but we will do everything to keep it and them safe.”