Different educational tech models pop up around county

Is one better than the other?

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comMarch 22, 2014 

In this file photo, students at Hilton Head Island High School use iPads to solve graphing problems in their algebra I class.

FILE — Staff photo Buy Photo

  • Battle of the education tech models

    As technology continues to play an increasing role in education, different models on how to use the new tools are cropping up. Two in Beaufort County are BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, and 1:1, which provides every student with the same device. Below are some details on the two models.

    BYOD Model

    • Definition: Students bring their own devices to school.
    • Pro: They can use a device they feel most comfortable with.
    • Con: A digital divide can occur when students don't have the same type of access.

    1:1 Model

    • Definition: Schools or districts provide all students with same device.
    • Pro: Learning is more equitable and consistent because students have the same device.
    • Con: It's expensive to buy and maintain the devices.

Spiral notebooks, pencils and chalk boards are considered relics in today's classrooms.

Now students use tablets, styluses and Promethean boards, or interactive whiteboards.

Technology continues to play a growing role in how students learn, but how best to integrate that technology in the classroom is still being debated.

Two prominent strategies exist throughout both the public and private schools in Beaufort County and across the state as well. One is BYOD -- or Bring Your Own Device. In the other -- 1:1 -- every student is provided with the same device.

Technology experts and district and school officials say both have their pros and cons. But is one better than the other?

"I've looked at the BYOD model, and I don't think it balances the playing field," said Beaufort County School District superintendent Jeff Moss. "If we truly want to balance the playing field and provide the same opportunities to all kids, then I believe we should provide the technology for students."

Beaufort County schools currently are working toward a 1:1 model. All students in the district's middle schools have iPads. Starting next school year, all students in elementary and high schools also will have tablets.

The 1:1 model is more equitable for students, efficient for tech staff to manage and consistent for teachers to use for instruction, said David Warlick, an expert in educational technology.

"An advantage of 1:1 is that we can spend less time training our teachers on different platforms and devices and spend more time focusing on how to integrate technology into personalized learning," district technology services officer Ross Hendricks said.

However, the 1:1 model comes at a cost.

The district will have spent more than $10 million dollars to equip its roughly 20,000 students and 1,500 teachers with tablets, Moss said. It's a worthy investment because of its instructional value, he said.

Some other local private schools have pursued a more cost-effective model.

Hilton Head Christian Academy recently began letting its students bring their own devices to school.

The academy's director of media and technology said using one specific device limits what students and teachers can achieve.

"As technology constantly changes, our strategy is to build our wireless infrastructure to enable our students to use whatever technological tools they choose to facilitate their learning," Dylan Curtis said in a release.

The BYOD model does allow students to learn with the device they are most comfortable and use it in different ways, Warlick said.

Beaufort Academy has seen the benefits of both models, instruction coordinator Nancy Compton said. The academy has iPad carts that elementary and middle school teachers can check out for their classrooms, and older students are allowed to bring their own device -- often a laptop -- to school, she said.

"This hybrid was definitely something that evolved over time," Compton said. "We know it is so important to have technology in the classroom, which is why we want to have these different models and capabilities."

The state Department of Education has seen a variety and mixture of different models as schools find the best way to use technology, spokesman Dino Teppara said. Evidence and research shows that students are more engaged with technology, yet there's no hard data that says one model is more successful than the other.

So what is the ideal model? Warlick says there isn't one.

All agree that technology has become a crucial part of education today and how it is integrated into the schools will continue to change as the technology does.

"The technology model is not the variable, the variable is the school," Warlick said. "It's teachers and its students, and the knowledge, vision and imagination of the staff who will ultimately make that decision."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

Related content:

  • IPad supporters tout student engagement, but effect on achievement unclear, March 9, 2013: http://bit.ly/1evCNOe
  • Beaufort County schools to let tablets go home, will add usage fee, January 19, 2014: http://bit.ly/1djAkIO
  • Tablet program to grow in Beaufort County schools, January 4, 2014: http://bit.ly/1laXfbx
  • District to expand iPad initiative, citing increased student engagement, May 23, 2013: http://bit.ly/OIEaPV

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