Mobile Computing

Maryland District Headed Toward BYOD Programs in Every School

Slowly but steadily, a school district in southern Maryland is converting all of its 36 schools into device-friendly zones. Early in 2014, Charles County Public Schools introduced a BYOD (bring your own device) policy into three of its schools — an elementary, middle and high school. When school starts this fall, four more will get involved and District Assistant Superintendent Sylvia Lawson said eventually every one of the district's 26,000-plus students should be able to use their own mobile devices, tablets and laptops in the classroom.

"Because students have so many different devices that they use at home," Lawson told a local reporter, "we felt it was only natural to allow those individuals and those students to bring those devices into school for educational purposes."

The catalyst for the transition, said Stone High School Principal Michael Meiser, was the increase in broadband that was required to support new Common Core assessment technology. It also meant there was the ability for more students to use their own devices in the classroom.

He said it has allowed teachers to expand the opportunity for "visual" field trips, research options, online scavenger hunts and pop quizzes with online surveys.

Meiser pointed to the example of having, for instance, a lesson on Genghis Khan enhanced by the ability of students to Google Genghis Khan at the same time.

District representatives said one of the greatest challenges to even quicker movement toward BYOD in the district has been the reluctance of teachers and administrators to participate. Meiser said that challenge is being met with more staff development opportunities.

"We started with the principals who were comfortable with it," Lawson said, "who could then lead the training for other principals."

Students who participate must have permission from their parents to use their own devices in school, and laptops and other devices are made available to students who do not have their own.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.