Survey results update BYOD program at high school

By Lisa Capobianco
Staff Writer
More than 60 percent of teachers at Southington High School who responded in a survey about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program reported that they used their own technology at least six times last year, according to the results.
“That was a very encouraging sign right away,” said social studies teacher Rich Aroian, during a recent Board of Education meeting.
Aroian, along with another teacher from the Social Studies Department, Candace Patten, administered the survey to determine not only how often teachers utilized the BYOD program, but also to observe how they used it and why.
“The purpose of the bring your own device program that we started last year is to increase technology, the availability of the classrooms by allowing students to use their own devices as a learning tool,” Aroian said.
According to the survey results, 72 percent of respondents said they used BYOD as a “quick look up” tool while 64 percent responded they used it for dictionary purposes, and 55 percent of respondents said they utilized the program to access the internet for assignments. They answered the survey based on how often they used BYOD in the fall of 2013.
“Many teachers are using it, but for the most part, it’s been a quick look-up tool,” Aroian said. “For the most part, it was smaller assignments.”
During the meeting, Aroian and Patten showed the school board various opportunities of websites and apps that teachers have used in the classroom with the BYOD program, including Google Drive, which allowed students to work together on a presentation using their own devices. Patten said Google Drive also allowed her to monitor students as they answer questions, and to comment on what they write for instant feedback.
“This is a way for all students to be actively involved,” said Patten, who uses Google Drive in her own classroom.
The survey also reported advantages and disadvantages of BYOD. Teachers reported that through the program, they did not have to leave the classroom, thereby saving instructional time. Respondents also reported that the program made research fun and kept students engaged, providing instant access to information and enhancing 21st century skills.
“They didn’t lose time moving their classrooms from room to room,” Aroian said. “It’s fun, it’s engaging for kids and is certainly an example of those 21st century skills we want to put into play.”
However, teachers reported disadvantages of the program, such as the difficulty of monitoring student use of technology in the classroom accurately. Another problem dealt with equity, as teachers reported that there are still a large number of students without a device to use in the classroom.
“There’s still a handful of them in every class that doesn’t have something,” said Aroian, adding that students who lack iPads and smartphones often have to crowd around their peers who have a device.
Aroian added that a potential solution for this issue includes the purchase of more mobile carts for the high school as well as Chromebooks.
“To have three students looking on one student who has something…that’s troubling to me,” said school board member Terry Lombardi.
Southington School Supt. Dr. Joseph Erardi replied that the Technology Long-term Planning Committee will address that issue within the next two months, and will report back to the Board of Education.

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