News / Edmonton

Edmonton students urged to "Bring Your Own Device" for new school year

Along with prepping binders and sharpening pencils, Edmonton parents might find themselves sending their kids with smartphones and tablets for the first day of class as more and more schools promote BYOD — Bring Your Own Device.

When asked if local parents can expect to see more and more schools adopt the BYOD initiative, Edmonton Public Schools technology consultant Rick Stiles-Oldring said absolutely.

“It’s where we’re going as a province,” he said.

As part of the Learning and Technology Policy Framework, the province is encouraging schools to offer different ways for students to use devices for learning.

“Technology is an efficiency tool and it gives kids a different way to express themselves,” Stiles-Oldring said.

“We’re not saying kids need to buy technology because the schools aren’t,” he clarified. “What (BYOD) means is if kids want to use their own device as opposed to the ones we’re providing, then they have that option.”

University of Alberta professor Linda Laidlaw said while devices can add to learning, educators need to ensure they're being used for a constructive purpose and as a tool for education.

As an expert in technology and education, Laidlaw’s current research is focusing on classrooms in Australia where devices are becoming mandatory for Grade 1 students in some schools.

“I think because things are expensive, I think there is some offloading on families in terms of school supply costs,” said Laidlaw.

While the BYOD initiative isn’t mandatory in Edmonton public schools, Lillian Osborne High School has embraced the model.

Principal Janet Hancock said students have been encouraged to bring their own device to class since the school opened six years ago.

For students unable to afford their own smartphone or tablet, the school council fund-raised to purchase Chromebooks. The school currently has enough computers and Chromebooks for one-third of students to use at any given time.

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