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2013-02-14

High school looking at BYOD

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Bandera High School Principal Gary Bitzkie shared a report with the Bandera ISD board of trustees this month on a pilot program he is calling "BYOD," or Bring Your Own Device. "Device" refers to electronic devices such as smart phones, laptops, notebooks and pads.
The pilot program will involve five different teachers in classes including Core, Elective, AP and seniors during lunch. The program will look at the possibilities of allowing students to use their devices as tools in the classroom.
There is a tendency, said Bitzkie, that whenever the conversation turns to computers, people think about technology. Bitzkie wants people to start thinking about computers and other devices as tools. "They're like a pencil in the old days," he said. "Today, the boy texts his love note to his girl friend on his smart phone."
BHS currently has policies in place regulating students' use of cell phones and the school's computers. Students can have a cell phone "as long as it is turned off, out of sight and does not interfere with instruction. Students may not use their phone without prior approval. Approval and use of the cell phone should occur in the school office." Texting, taking pictures and recording information are prohibited. Violating the policy can result in having the phone taken away.
Bitzkie said a growing percentage of students today have their own mobile electronic devices.
"I couldn't wait to have this conversation," Bitzkie told the board. "Public education is behind in using technology. [Devices] are a tool [to supplement the curriculum.]"
Bitzkie said that for generations, the teacher was "Oz," the source of all knowledge in the classroom, "but that's no longer the case."
Like sending those notes using old-fashioned pencil and paper, social networking is happening anyway, he said. Bitzkie and his pilot program aim to find ways to harness those tools to serve as an adjunct to learning.
After the pilot is completed, "we'll talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly," before developing comprehensive guidelines, Bitzkie said. He indicated that the new policy will definitely include a "personally owned computing/network device acceptance of responsibility and device use agreement permission form, revealing the students' device address to the school, and using the schools' internet filter.