Students in 21 schools will be allowed to use their iPads and other “smart” devices on campus in the first phase of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ “Bring Your Own Technology” program, officials announced Friday.
The students will be test subjects, as school officials plan to study the results of the program’s roll-out before expanding it across the system.
The schools – 12 elementary, six middle and three high schools – are spread across the system and include those with high-poverty student populations and those in more affluent areas.
The school board cleared the way for student use of personal devices in August. Administrators had pushed for the change, saying it gives students access to up-to-date information that sometimes isn’t available in textbooks. Some educators see the day when textbooks will not be needed in the classroom.
“Bring Your Own Technology will allow our students to use their own devices at specified times during the school day to enhance their learning,” Superintendent Heath Morrison said. “Students can use laptops, eBook readers, iPads and smart phones.
“Expanding the use of technology to enhance learning for our students is exciting.”
Schools were invited to be part of the first phase. Selection was based on a survey that measured teacher and student readiness, CMS officials say.
Starting dates at each of the 21 schools will vary, but CMS officials say they will have the wireless networks available by mid-October.
School system officials say they plan to study the initial results from the first-phase schools in November and then, hopefully, announce an expansion of the program after Thanksgiving. The eventual goal is to have all CMS schools involved during the current academic year.
Valerie Truesdale, CMS’ chief information officer, said Internet access will vary from school to school.
“Some schools have infrastructure that will allow many students to access the network at once; others will need to limit the number of students on the wireless network at any one time,” she said. “The access is provided through a guest network which has standard CMS student filtering.”
One of the schools in the first group is South Mecklenburg High, where Principal Maureen Furr said the school will take careful steps in launching the program.
“We are committed to pacing ourselves through a thoughtful implementation of BYOT,” Furr said. “We will monitor bandwidth as teacher and students open instruction to mobile device traffic. Scaling up BYOT will be systematic and purposeful.”