"Bring Your Own Device" at Hillsborough County's schools?

1:36 PM, Dec 13, 2012   |    comments
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Photo Courtesy: Offers.com



Tampa, Florida -- B.Y.O.D.: Bring Your Own Device. Hillsborough County school board members are discussing the possibility of allowing students to use their smart phones, tablets, and laptops in the classroom as part of their curriculum.

"The kids in this generation have never known a world without technology since the day they were born," said April Griffin, Hillsborough County School Board Chairwoman. "We are moving into a world where a lot of online learning is going to be taking place, even at the college level and I think we need to move with our students."

The BYOD Initiative is still in the discussion phase, but it's possible a pilot program in select classrooms in select schools could begin as early as this spring.

The district recently surveyed students at several elementary, middle and high schools to find out how many students have access to a digital device. (Survey taken at Bailey and Deer Park Elementary Schools, Barrington and Burnett Middle Schools, and Hillsborough, Middleton, Strawberry Crest and Steinbrenner High Schools)  

Here are the results:

Laptop: 70% have one, 78% would like to use at school

Tablet: 46% have one, 85% would like to use at school

eReader: 34% have one, 86% would like to use at school

Smart Phone: 58% have one, 87% would like to use at school

Internet Media Player: 58% have one, 87% would like to use at school

While there may be some benefits to students using their own devices in the classroom, with information right at their fingertips, there are also concerns.

The first thing going through some parents minds may be, "my child does not have a digital device."

Griffin says the BYOD Initiative would allow the district to provide devices to those students.

"In recent legislation, you can spend money on technology in lieu of textbooks and that's what Wiregrass is doing, they are using their textbook monies to buy technology and the applications, a lot of them are free," explained Griffin. She tells 10 News there are also federal and private grants available to purchase devices to bridge the digital divide gap.

The initiative's goal would be to allow students to use their devices to read novels, develop multimedia presentations, take notes, watch subject related videos, email, and read digital textbooks.

If BYOD becomes policy, the initiative also calls for protections to be put in place that would not allow students to access websites they shouldn't be and it calls for a district wide policy to address the use of the personal devices by staff and students while on school property.

The draft plan would also require all digital devices, even personal, that are connected to the school's network to be treated as school-owned computers.

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