County schools begin device roll out, look forward to future

Amelia Holliday Staff Reporter

October 29, 2013

LEATHERWOOD—Students in the Perry County School District can now be seen carrying around new tablet devices after the roll out of the Bring Your Own Device program for eight through 12th graders began earlier this month.

“I think it’s kind of a good experience for us to be able to do more electronically in class,” Lauryn Fugate, an eighth grader at Leatherwood Elementary, said after receiving her Microsoft Surface RT Thursday evening. “I kind of expect for us to be a little bit more excited about class now.”

Mike Smith, Perry County district technology coordinator, said the ability of the district to supply students with these devices is a huge step in the right direction, adding that Perry County is the first district in the area to implement a program such as this on such a expansive scale.

“This thing is really going to change the way they do business,” he said.

Smith explained that by giving these devices to students, a whole new world of opportunities is opened to them, the teachers, and the district as a whole.

“We’re looking and we’re finding and we’re discovering ways to move a lot of the hard copies, paper text, through a digital text and students will only actually have this one device,” he said.

Another program that Smith said would benefit in the district from the availability of the tablets is the Snow Bound Program, which aims to help districts in the eastern part of the state that are forced to miss weeks of material at a time due to inclement weather.

“It’s kind of a handicap for us going into assessment when we’ve been out of school two, three, four weeks sometimes and then we have to come back and try to get everything covered before the assessment,” Smith said.

Now, with these devices, students will actually be able to continue working at home during those times of prolonged absence and can submit it to the teacher, Smith added.

“It gives them the option to store their content up in the Cloud so they can collaborate with their teachers and other students, and also video conference, they can Skype, they can use Microsoft Link,” he said. “If they have an issue at home at night they can actually link up to the teacher and get that assistance.”

Smith said these devices also give teachers, who will begin training for the devices in the coming weeks, many more options as to how they will teach certain material, like utilizing apps for pop quizzes or assessments.

“There are some teachers that are ready for it now,” he said. “Some teachers are still a little wary of it, though.”

After signing for the device and paying a $50 yearly service charge, the 13 eighth graders at Leatherwood were able to take their devices home. Smith explained that those devices would stay with those students through the rest of their educational career.

“The seniors this year actually have the option to pay the difference and keep theirs,” he said. “That’s what the service fee to the district is for, to pay for the device or any repairs or replacements that might be needed.”

Smith said there are still some bugs in the system that need to be worked out, such as Wifi capacity and ensuring the students don’t abuse the Internet privileges during class, however said those are to be expected and will be resolved as the process moves along since this is the largest project of this kind to be implemented in the area.

“This is why I love technology,” he said.