Use of technology devices—iPads, Netbooks, laptop computers, smartphones and the like—continues to grow in Rolla classrooms, the Rolla Board of Education heard Thursday night.
Now the question arises: Should the district adopt a BYOD, bring your own device, policy? Should the district continue to provide the devices on carts for students to use? Should the district do a combination of both strategies?
Technology Director Ginger King presented her periodic technology update and noted the pilot program the district has undertaken for the current school year includes eight teachers, three at the middle school and five at the high school. All totaled, they use two iPad carts, one Netbook cart, two laptop cats and one technology enhanced classroom.
In addition, the classrooms of the teachers in the pilot program have document cameras, audio enhancement systems and interactive projectors.
The teachers have undertaken 35 hours of instruction themselves. The pilot program teachers will present an end-of-year wrap-up at the May 2 board meeting.
King also reported that for the 2013-2014 school year, those eight teachers will continue to develop their skills and they will serve as trainers for other teachers on professional development days to promote the use of the devices into classroom instruction.
Site visits to two St. Louis-area schools were made this school year. One school focused on the BYOD strategy, while the other provided the devices to the students.
King and the board members noted the advantages and drawbacks of each strategy.
The bring-your-own-devices approach focuses attention on the gap between the haves and the have-nots, but it also allows those with the devices to progress without being held back because others don’t have the technology at their disposal.
The district-provided method with the use of the cartloads of computers that are taken from classroom to classroom promotes collaborative learning, but it limits the opportunity for individuals to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the class.
King reviewed the growth of technology use in the classroom over the past seven or more years.
A summer academy for teachers’ professional development in instructional technology began in the summer of 2007. The next year that academy became the iTeach Academy.
Some 15-20 teachers participated each summer, learning SMARTboards.
In 2012-2013, the iTeach Mobile Device Academy began.
Proposed for 2013-2014 are professional development days for all teachers and creation of iTeach Focus Groups to prepare for the so-called Common Core and new online testing requirements.