Administrators and staff from Saline Area Schools will host an informational forum Monday, April 30 to discuss a plan that will require all incoming ninth grade students to have a keyboard-bearing digital device with them at school every day beginning this fall.
Students have been encouraged to bring digital devices to class for several years now, but the new plan, called BYOD+, mandates the practice.
At the board of education meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Scot Graden said the initiative is not without its hurdles but is a step toward a more modern and individualized educational model.
“It’s a challenge for us as an organization, it’s a challenge for us as adulta, I think it’s a challenge for you as political leaders,” he said to the board of education, calling into question old norms.
On a night where a brass quintet from the high school wowed meeting attendees with polished musical stylings, and forensic speech competitor Brittany Bryant dropped every jaw in the house with an electrically-emotional dramatic performance, Graden admitted tweaking what, in many ways, is already a very effective educational model in Saline certainly garners some raised eyebrows.
“I don’t want to necessarily, you know, come up here and say we’re not doing things right,” he said. “I think we just need to continue to take what we have and transition to a more personalized approach where the students can get what they need for what’s coming forward instead of looking backward.”
Graden said SAS has secured a low-cost Chromebook option, at $161 per unit, for families who don’t already have a device for their student and added that those who aren’t able to cover that expense will have one provided, for use, by the district.
“We know some families want to have their device of choice,” he said. “It also allows us to not get in the business of providing devices for every student.”
The forum should make for some interesting discussions, as the conversation on Facebook regarding the matter garnered some strong opinions when brought up by The Post.
Concerns raised varied from students losing, breaking, or forgetting to charge their devices, to the social stigma attached to using a rental device from the district.
Some also expressed worry about keeping kids on task and away from distraction.
“I’m just wondering how that is going to affect student engagement and attention,” Carolyn Suarez Minnette commented,” and how are teachers going to monitor exactly what the students are doing online, especially while in the classroom?”
Proponents of the plan cited the enormous innovative and creative potential inherent in such technology, as well as significant preparation for the digital workforce graduates will enter.
It can also lighten the kids’ load, as Disa Webb pointed out.
“If they can download their textbooks and not have to carry a backpack full of heavy books, I support it,” she said.
The BYOD+ forum will take place April 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the Saline High School Media Center.
“Also, incoming ninth grade students will be provided with some technology training to support these devices during freshman orientation on August 23,” according to the SAS website.