It’s called BYOD – bring your own device.
Peel Region’s 140,000 public school students are being encouraged to bring their smartphones, iPads, tablets and laptop computers to class in what the board calls its “21st century” learning plan.
“The days when kids go into the computer lab for an hour and that’s their technology for the day – those days are over,” said Brian Woodland, director of communications for the Peel District School Board.
“There’s a need to move from an investment in a computer lab to technology that’s more portable,” he said, as well as programs that give kids access to their work after school hours.
Trustees voted this week to spend $7 million, in part to add wireless technology and increase its bandwidth in schools. In the past, such funds would have been used to build traditional computer labs, said Woodland.
Such plans raise questions about equity, especially for lower-income students who don’t own such devices or have access to them outside of school – a growing issue that has been dubbed the “app gap.”
But the Peel board plans to purchase tablets or the like, to “ensure equity of access to technology for all students through classroom computers and tablets in schools.”
Peel is among the first to pass such an ambitious plan, said Catherine Fife, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association.
”You can’t fight it,” she said of technology being used in the classroom. “That’s why this decision is pivotal; other school boards will be watching.
“Fighting how this generation learns is not a good use of time of teachers or administrators. Instead of chasing after them, you just embed it into the learning experience of students.”
The Toronto and York public boards allow electronic devices in classrooms at the teacher’s discretion. The expectation in Peel is that all teachers will be making use of technology and the board will provide training.