Using BYOD Across the District

BY RACHELLE WOOTEN /School Administrator, April 2017

In the three years since we first allowed students to bring their own technology devices to the classroom in the Fort Bend Independent School District, we’ve learned a few things about what successful implementation requires.

» Survey students and parents.
Collect data to determine what personal mobile devices, if any, students will be bringing to school. Some schools have laptops that students can check out from the library while others may provide several devices that students can use in their classrooms. Either way, you want to have options for students who don’t have access to their own.

» Generate a plan for use of the mobile devices.
Part of that will involve boosting the wireless access capabilities on campus because this is an ongoing process. The plan should support the Wi-Fi infrastructure on the campuses. The plan also should outline what websites and social media sites should be accessible to students — once you determine which sites ought to be unacceptable on your network. In our district, students use a network where YouTube and Snapchat are blocked.

» Create a responsible use policy.
Before any communication is sent to parents, develop a policy that will serve as a “contract” for how students can use their devices at school as well as what happens when they do not use them appropriately. Our students and their parents sign off on this policy at the beginning of the school year. In addition, they participate in a digital citizenship lesson each nine weeks to reinforce ways to use digital tools in a positive, responsible way.

» Communicate with parents.
If students will be using their parent-provided mobile devices at school for learning purposes, the district must keep parents informed about how and when they will be used. Parents will want to know which devices will be needed and what websites students need to access for school work. Some may want to know if they are required to do so.

» Integrate devices into professional gatherings.
For teachers to feel more comfortable with students bringing their devices to class, digital learning coordinators ought to model the use of mobile devices in their professional learning experiences and at faculty meetings. Ask teachers to use their mobile devices to scan a QR code that links to an electronic form to see what they already know about a topic.
 — Rachelle Wooten