News Source: The following was re-shared with permission from the ECISD Technology Department blog at http://bit.ly/ecto
In classrooms at East Central High School over the past month, students enhanced learning through the use of their personal, mobile devices with the encouragement of classroom teachers and campus leadership!
For senior Erin Bay (an alias), the new policy known as Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) sends a message that the District has embraced mobile learning.
“I use my iPhone all the time, and it’s great to be able to use it as part of what I’m learning in class,” she said. “My favorite lesson during the first week was one my teacher did where we could use our own tech.” Several hundred students are connecting to the District’s wireless network–engineered for BYOT–using one of the recommended devices on the ECISD BYOT Mobile Device Chart (http://bit.ly/ecbyot).
After revamping it’s Responsible Use Agreement, enhancing wireless infrastructure, crafting a BYOT Mobile Learning certification program for 70+ teachers and administrators, and conducting town hall meetings with parents and students, the East Central ISD has turbo-charged classroom learning–students can now bring their mobile devices and use them. The rollout will continue in the Fall, 2013 at the two Middle School campuses.
High school students over the last month have had over 450 mobile devices on campus. “Parents and students have made a big investment in mobile devices,” points out ECHS Principal Roland Toscano, “whether it’s a smartphone, a laptop/netbook, Chromebook, iPodTouch, or tablet. Here at ECHS we are going to allow students to use their own devices to increase technology usage to enhance instruction.”
East Central ISD follows in the steps of other school districts in Texas. The BYOT initiative capitalizes on available student devices, and models responsible academic use of these devices. It also builds on the work of a 1100+ iPad initiative at elementary and middle school campuses known as EC3. The 3 Cs represent “Connected Collaborative Critical Thinking” and are more about transforming teaching and learning than technology.
East Central ISD Superintendent Gary Patterson said the Bring Your Own Technology initiative takes advantage of the ubiquity of technology available in student hands, and looks to changing how classroom teachers approach teaching a hyper-connected learning environment.
“We need to support learning in classrooms that goes beyond the way we learned how to read, write, and reason.” Patterson said. “Technology can accelerate our movement from good to great only when teachers make big changes in the small things they do. For example, establishing virtual classrooms using tools like Edmodo and GoogleApps for Education.”
High school English teacher Lauren Hickey highlights the higher level of engagement as students prepare digital products.
“I have been amazed at how engaged my students have been with this assignment. I have several classes that are high Spec. Ed and even my lowest students, who I struggle to engage on most days,” notes Hickey, “have been working hard and are engaged in the project.”
Suzette Arriola, assistant principal, points out that teachers have received special training in using mobile devices. Each teacher must post a “BYOT Certified” sign on their door to let students and visitors know that mobile technology may be found in their classrooms. Specialized training focuses on creating safe, online learning environments through the use of no-cost tools such as GoogleApps for Education and Edmodo.com. These tools work on a wide variety of mobile devices, making them versatile additions to the teacher’s toolkit. “Teaching with these tools,” points out Patterson, “isn’t an option. We can help our students be successful now so that they may build on those triumphs in the future.”
In preparing to launch BYOT at the High School, the District Technology Operations team worked collaboratively with high school, teaming to ensure a smooth launch. While there were certainly some roadblocks, detours were quickly constructed by the multi-faceted team of instructional technology, campus faculty and technical staff.
“The ECISD School board,” shares Patterson, “has provided us with phenomenal support as we transform how we approach changing how we approach everything from the mundane to instructional processes.”
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