County schools prepare for upload of new digital devices

Amelia Holliday — Staff Reporter

September 18, 2013

HAZARD—Eighth graders and high school students in the Perry County School District are preparing to take the next step in what some are calling the future of education.

“We’re excited, we’re really excited,” said Mike Smith, district technology coordinator for the district.

As part of the district’s new “Bring Your Own Device” program, 1,350 digital tablets have been purchased for every student in grades 8-12 this year. Smith said he has been working with staff at all the schools to get ready for the implementation of these devices, which begins early next month.

“This is more of an instructional initiative than a digital initiative,” he said.

The first school to receive the tablets, Smith said, will be Robinson Elementary at its open house on Oct. 2.

“I’m going to be there at their open house and parents will come in. We’ll go over how to care for the device, and they’re going to take them home,” Smith said. “There’s a lot that they have to know before we can just go out and start handing them to them.”

Concerns for students’ safety online have led the district to require an Internet safety course be taken by each student receiving a tablet before they can actually be given one.

“The students must have completed DDL,” Smith explained. “DDL is the digital driver’s license … that’s through UK and the department of education and it teaches them how to be safe online, how to deal with cyber bullying.”

Smith said each student will be required to take two courses for the DDL, adding that making this mandatory is ideal for the district since it has had a difficult time in the past getting students to take the course on their own.

“We’ve just got to make sure the kids are safe,” he said.

Smith said he has been showcasing the tablets at open houses across the district since the school year began, explaining to parents and students alike what the tablets will be able to do as well as what exactly will be expected of the students when they are given these tablets.

“A lot of the textbook companies give schools an option to purchase that digital version, so they (students) can just go to the website and type in the school code and the class code and get that book,” he said. “If they bring that device to school and it’s not charged, that’s going to be like a disciplinary action like if they didn’t show up with paper and pencil or textbooks or other instructional materials.”

Smith said he’s beginning training for teachers at Perry County Central next week for the devices. He said the high school may have the added benefit of getting free technical services from students at the community college.

“I just got off the phone with a gentleman from, he’s actually a laid off miner and he’s at HCTC, and we’re going to do some cooperating with them and set up a help desk,” Smith said. “It’s basically free labor. They’ll come in the high school a couple of hours a day and help us maintain them because they need the experience and it helps us.”