As Indian Prairie Unit District 204 moves into the fourth year of its Bring Your Own Technology program, often called BYOT, administrators are challenging educators to go "beyond BYOT."
The district bought more than 3,000 new laptops for this school year and replaced 1,700 old ones, which will combine with the smartphones and tablets students bring from home to provide more access to technology in the classroom, said Stacey Gonzales, director of instructional technology.
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"The work you have approved over the past four years has been instrumental in moving technology and success forward," Gonzales told school board members Monday night. "This year we're looking to go beyond BYOT into the deep instructional practices that will set our teachers ahead in terms of using technology to improve instruction."
Along with buying more laptops, Gonzales said District 204 is providing more professional education to teachers on ways to engage students using technology. Through self-paced online courses, teachers are learning how students can use laptops or personal technology to do research during class, collaborate with other students and create their own presentations or other content.
The new laptop purchases mean the district has more laptops than desktop computers for the first time. There are 8,299 laptops districtwide and 6,497 desktop computers for roughly 29,000 students.
Kimmer Cornish, principal of Still Middle School, said the district is not moving to a one-to-one technology initiative, but there should be one laptop or desktop to every five students this year instead of the one computer to every ten students available last year.
Board members thanked administrators for keeping the district on the technological forefront with more classroom computers, the continuation of the BYOT program, and the availability of new online classes through a consortium formed with Naperville Unit District 203 and Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200.
"A lot of our curriculum material is online," board member Michael Raczak said. "It's going to become a priority that all our students have some level of access (to computers) as things change from written book to electronic."