Wisconsin Schools Embrace BYOT on Digital Learning Day

To mark Digital Learning Day, schools in Wisconsin decided to test the usefulness of technology in the classroom by inviting their students into bring their own digital devices to see how they blend in with and, hopefully, enhance traditional learning.

In one school, for an eighth grade European art class project, students sat flicking through across vivid photos on iPod Touches, or clicked through Google image files on laptops or netbooks they’d brought from home, writes Erin Richards at the Journal Sentinel.

Officials at a Kansas City school have embraced the policy, allowing students to bring their own laptops, smartphones and other devices to class, with teachers adjusting their curriculum to leverage whatever hand-held or portable computing device children’s parents allow them to bring to school.

Digital Learning Day was a national initiative that looked to promote the shift toward more digital learning opportunities in schools. Many see the embracing of technology as an area where many students have felt more comfortable than their educators in recent times.

This week, State Superintendent Tony Evers’ Digital Learning Advisory Council released recommendations that encouraged more online collaboration and technology to guide towards more digital learning in Wisconsin schools.

Evers said:

“We gathered good people to formulate these recommendations and action items in order to support innovation in schools and districts.

“Schools shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to figuring out how best to use technology. This plan will serve as a roadmap of best practices and maximum impacts.”

The council advised that new policies and practices should embrace technology, and look to include the possibility of the use of personal devices. However, it was sure to point out that these online or technology sessions should be regulated and that teachers are sure that the sessions are enhancing learning instead of solely providing entertainment.

Paula Walser, director of e-learning at Cooperative Educational Service Agency 6, believes that while some districts are plowing into iPads or netbooks for their children, districts with very small or very large schools would struggle to fund those kind of initiatives.