BYOD Program Major Success in Some Classrooms, Less in Others
Tech-related classes are seeing an entire revolution of education with the Bring Your Own Device program at Bayside Middle School, but traditional core classes aren't quite ready to completely rework their curriculum.
When you were in middle school, would you have learned more if you'd have had an iPad? Does your 13-year-old learn more quickly with today's technology?
Stephen Schneider is the data teacher at Bayside Middle School and he says the new Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program — which allows students to bring any kind of electronic device into the classroom — is turning the tables on education and creating an entirely new, more self-motivated environment.
"We're at a point in education, this is revolutionary," Schneider said. "It's going to change the face of education completely."
In March, the Fox Point-Bayside School Board approved the BYOD pilot, which invites students to bring anything from an iPad to smart phones, Kindles and laptops.
“With BYOD, the school didn't have to purchase more computers,” Adi Krasniansky, a 13-year-old at Bayside said. “A lot of times the computers are already taken, this way you can use your own device.”
But with the introduction of new technology into a traditional classroom setting comes a mix of responses. In technology-driven classes, such as Schneider's, the pilot is completely changing the classroom experience. However, in more traditional courses, such as English or science, the pilot is having less impact.
Digital natives changing the classroom
In Schneider's DATA (Digital and Technology Applications) classes, students are assigned projects like photography. However, with school budgets being slashed across the state and even the country, many teachers, like Schneider, can't provide a digital camera for every student. That's where BYOD comes in.
"It just makes sense," he said. "I just think of how I use my iPhone. When I have a question, I'm right there doing a voice search. For kids who are born into this, that's a very instinctive thing."
But even more than the technological advancements and opportunities, Schneider says BYOD reduces reliance on traditional one-way classroom communication and note-taking. Students instead can work one-on-one with teachers during class time.
"Our model of education has not changed much from the 1800s with the teacher in the front of the room, the kids sitting and listening and copying down what the teacher puts on the board," he said. "That's going to disappear, it has to."
Technology is a blessing or a curse?
While classroom disruptions, from note passing to whispering secrets, have existed as long as schools have, Schneider says new technology is not necessarily opening the door to more disruption in the learning experience.
"Technology is a disruptive affect as a force in education," he said. "You're going to see more situations with what they call a 'flipped classroom' where most of the teacher instruction is online. Then most of the classroom time is spent with the teacher going around the room and working with individual students. That's a powerful model.
Has students understanding of technology surpassed the technology schools can afford to provide?
"I think that’s been the case for awhile," Schneider said. "The kids are digital natives. They are actually much more adept to using technology than the majority of adults."
Traditional core classrooms moving more slowly
Sam Scribner, 14, said he supports BYOD as well, but he can see how the program may be more successful in some classes more than others.
“In science it would be more useful than English because you can look up more material for science that you could really for English,” he said.
This follows the same line of thinking Bayside English teacher Manon Gatford has about the program. She said it can certainly be useful in some areas of study, however, it’s not quite taking off with the same speed in all classes as it is in Schneider’s data class.
"In here, it hasn't morphed because there's not been enough time to restructure instruction," she said. "Second of all, they have their phones but that's not something you can consistently structure your instruction around, yet."
But Gatford also asked, how many students really have this technology? She said she's only aware of four eighth-graders who have laptops in her classrooms.
"I don't know if the others are choosing not to bring them or what," she said.
And to answer questions such as how many students really do have these devices and how they are using them, the district has sent out surveys to students, their parents and teachers to find out just how successful these last few months have been.
Don Galster, principal for Bayside Middle School, said the results of the survey should be released just a few weeks after school is completed.
Patch will have an updated story with the survey results when they are released.