OWENSVILLE - Schools across Mid-Missouri are beginning to find new ways to use technology in the classroom. With many students already using their own devices, schools such as Owensville High are implementing "Bring Your Own Device" programs. These programs allow students to bring their own laptops, iPads, and even cell phones into the classroom for Internet use.
Owensville High School began the program in January, and said students and teachers have been more receptive than previously expected. "We kind of anticipated some problems with some lost laptops, or lost iPads, or maybe even some of them borrowed inappropriately, but we haven't had any of those issues so far," said principal Kurt Keller. In fact, teachers and students both said students often become the teachers.
"I learn something new every day. Like some of the tricks that I never have known before. My kids were able to teach me more than I was able to teach them, so I learn from them almost on a daily basis. They teach me something every day," said Jenny Stockton, an English teacher. Molly Hengstenberg is a student who agrees. "I think we're teaching them. I don't know how many times in a class period that our teachers ask us, ‘Well how do you...?' And not copy and paste, but things like, ‘Well how do you take this from here to here?' And we teach them things like that," she said.
Students are allowed to bring any type of device, but cell phones are the most popular. The school used to punish students for having phones out, but now the usage is encouraged. "This generation, they're going to have to know how to do this. I mean, when they get out into the job force, it's just going to be expected for them to know how to have these skills," said Kay Steineker, a teacher at Owensville High.
Brock said he understands some families can't afford the latest devices, which is why the school offers laptops for students to check out. The school also offers extra hours before and after school for students to use the Internet if they do not have access at home. "We know that there's a percentage of students that still do not have access at home, but that seems to be shrinking. There's fewer and fewer students who don't have that access and of course we try to give them opportunity, whether it be before school or after school, to come in and utilize the time there," said Brock. "The idea was that no matter where they were, they could utilize the technology to achieve their goals and to reach the resources that they need to reach their assignments."
Brock said he would like to see the school go entirely paperless, but he's finding the cost of electronic books is even more expensive than regular textbooks. He said, "There are becoming more and more free resources out there, and really high quality types of resources that you can utilize. It's just a matter of finding them, screening them, and making sure that they are appropriate for what we are instructing students with."
As more schools in the area begin similar programs, Brock said his advice would be to research options best for teachers, students, and parents unique to that district. The Owensville school district is considering an option for parents to pay a fee of about $50 per year for students to rent a school-provided laptop. That would eliminate the need for parents to purchase a device that could cost hundreds of dollars.
Click here to view more about Owensville High School's technology policy.