My school is currently looking at rolling at a Bring Your Own Device program. We are in the phase of the process where we are discussing all of the pro’s and con’s and working out policies and procedures. We are having a philosophical debate about weather a BYOD program is appropriate in elementary school. My school is a k-12 private school so we have to look at a policy that will impact the entire school. I specifically work with the elementary school so I am trying to determine how this program will affect the younger student’s at our school.
I think fourth and fifth-grade would have no problem with a BYOD program at school. These students are using these technologies at home and are familiar with how they work. Third-grade is an interesting question, because I believe they are old enough to handle BYOD. I think any students younger than third-grade should have technology in the classroom and not a BYOD program. Younger students have enough trouble getting themselves and their homework to school in one piece, I do not think we should add to their stress by having them bring their own device to school as well.
One idea our school is looking at is off-setting the cost of text books for parents by allowing students to carry “digital” textbooks. That naturally begs the question – Do students need to have textbooks? I think that is an interesting question, because I do not think students need to have textbooks. I believe we have to prepare students for the world they are going to live in, which is one where all of their books are on the Ipad or their Kindle. However, some in our school believe that students need to have textbooks and believe that we are doing our student’s a disservice by not teaching them to properly handle textbooks. They believe that working with textbooks is a fundamental reading skill that young students need to have. I agree with this sentiment as well! I am having a hard time determining if that mentality is “old school” or just solid educational practice.
There have been a lot of fads in education that have proved to be harmful to students (whole language to name one!) and could reading from an electronic device be one of those fads? Could we do more damage to young children’s eyes by having them read off of electronic devices, rather than books? I think these are all very serious questions that need to be addressed and researched before schools allow elementary age students to Bring Their Own Device!