Given the potential of technology to enhance learning and teaching, many districts in Massachusetts are working towards ensuring that every student has access to a mobile device, such as a laptop, tablet, or netbook. Districts generally have two options: (1) a one to one model (1:1), in which school-owed devices are loaned to all students, which may or may not be allowed home; or (2) a “bring your own device” model (BYOD), in which students are encouraged to bring a personal device to and from school, while providing a school-owned device to students who choose not to bring a personal device.
Districts should identify the educational goals they want to achieve, create a shared vision of the learning experiences they want to provide students in order to reach those goals, and only then consider how technology can support the enactment of that vision.
Initiatives that use technology as the starting point are rarely successful. Because of the significant investment of funds and other resources required to make the shift to BYOD/1:1, technology should be an extension of existing plans for improving learning and teaching. Districts should identify the educational goals they want to achieve, create a shared vision of the learning experiences they want to provide students in order to reach those goals, and only then consider how technology can support the enactment of that vision. The district’s vision for implementing BYOD/1:1 should be developed through a thoughtful process that incorporates stakeholder input.
Management and support
Implementing BYOD/1:1 successfully require a robust infrastructure. Key elements include affordable, high-speed broadband (external infrastructure) and wi-fi and devices (internal infrastructure). Districts must consider whether they need new policies to govern the use of devices in school. Finally, the initiative must have an achievable financial plan, including sustainable funding mechanisms and realistic forecasting and trending.
Learning and teaching
When carefully planned and thoughtfully applied, devices can amplify the impact of effective teaching practices. The roles of classroom teachers and librarians, students, and parents/guardians will gradually shift as the devices enable new types of learning experiences. However, educators need the knowledge, skills, and support to take full advantage of the technology. Even teachers who are “digital natives”, for example, may have difficulty managing a classroom in which every student has a device.
Out of school access
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, technology for students and teachers can impact the quality of education as well as students’ ability to engage with digital resources outside the classroom. For those districts or schools where access to the internet or to other technology outside of school hours is a necessary or presumed aspect of what is expected from students, it is critical that students have access to necessary technology outside of school and that districts support students who do not have internet access at home, such as through providing wireless access via a wi-fi hotspot at school that is available outside of school hours.
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