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September 22. 2013 9:58PM

Manchester school technology officials look to expand Bring Your Own Device program

MANCHESTER — The city’s BYOD pilot program is ready to G-R-O-W.

School technology officials are expected to share with Board of School Committee members the results of the Webster Elementary School’s Bring Your Own Device program for fourth- and fifth-grade students, and request that the program be expanded to include third-graders as well.

Tonight’s meeting gets underway at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 1 City Hall Plaza.

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) pilot program integrates technology with classroom instruction. Students can bring their devices from home to use at school. Devices include laptops, tablets, iPads, smartphones and other devices with Internet access. Throughout the program, students and teachers have tracked how the technology is used as an aid in the classroom, and will share that feedback with the school board tonight.

According to the district’s BYOD policy, access to the SAU’s wireless network is filtered in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act. Use of personal devices during the school day is at the discretion of teachers and staff. The primary use of the devices should be for educational purposes, and not disrupt classes.

The program was in place during the final four months of the 2012-2013 school year for fourth- and fifth-graders.

“I could not be more pleased with the results of our BYOD pilot,” writes Christine Martin, Webster School principal, in a memo to Manchester School IT Director Jeff DeLangie. “Students would bring their personal computing devices to school and use them as a tool, a resource like any other resource in the classroom.”

According to Martin, when students in the program arrived in their classrooms each morning, they placed their electronic devices in a central location, where a teacher could monitor their usage. During independent learning time, or as instructed by their teacher, students could access their devices as needed. Students who did not have these devices were invited to share with others, or use a device provided by the school.

Martin reports that 60 percent of fourth- and fifth- graders at Webster took part in the BYOD program. Students used their Internet devices to provide background information for topics in their reading or other content areas.

“Google Translator was a big hit in the EL classrooms, bridging the language gap between our English dominant students and newcomers,” writes Martin.

Martin said no students in the program were referred to the main office for discipline associated with use of the devices.

“We believe we are ready and able to bring another grade of students into this tremendous project,” writes Martin.

Members of the city’s Information Technology Committee voted unanimously on Sept. 10 to approve the continuation of the fourth- and fifth-grade pilot BYOD program, and expanding it to include third-grade classrooms this school year.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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