By Ryan Dean
Chesterfield, Mo (KSDK) -- Parkway is the latest area school district to implement a BYOD (bring your own device) program. Starting this school year, students at Parkway Central Middle School and Parkway North High School can bring their smartphones, tablets, laptops and other electronic devices into the classroom.
Parkway's Technology Coordinator Tom Swoboda says it will be up to the teachers in how they want to use the devices. He says at the end of November, administrators will examine how the program is running at the two schools, and hope to offer it to all middle and high school students starting after Thanksgiving.
Swoboda says the district has been considering a BYOD program for several years. After conducting focus groups with parents and students, they decided to try it out.
"We wanted to do 1:1 (each student has a school issued device), but with the size of the district and economic state that we are in right now, 1:1 really isn't viable for a district our size," Swoboda said.
Students will be able to connect to the district's filtered Internet. The policy doesn't allow students to access social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Swoboda says the benefits of having a BYOD program is it "extends your learning beyond the classroom...we had a student tell us 'you know, I live in the 21st century, but when I come to school, it feels like I time travel back to the 20th because I don't get to use my phone or my laptop.'"
There are critics to schools having students bring their own devices. One complaint, it creates an unfair learning environment because some students don't have a personal electronic device to bring.
Swoboda says that a survey done by the school, shows that nearly 90 percent of middle and high school students have at least a cell phone. He says the current student to computer ratio is 2:1, and feels that ratio will improve with some teens bringing in their own devices.
To prevent students from cheating on exams and other assignments, Swoboda says guidelines will be established with teachers on when the devices can be used.
Other districts such as Francis Howell and Lindbergh, already offer a BYOD program. Clayton and Kirkwood are considering it. St. Louis Public Schools says it has a program where all third grade students have access to iPads.