DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) - Technology is quickly becoming the new way to teach at the Dripping Springs Independent School District. As a result, students are now being told to BYOD (bring your own device).
Marisa Vickery is training elementary instructors how to implement these items into their lesson plans: iPads, laptops, smartphones - digital devices the district wants students to have on their back to school list.
"It's tools that they're going to need to carry them through college, so why not learn it now?" said, Marisa Vickery, facilitator of learning and innovation at Walnut Springs Elementary.
But the district is learning that – while the technology is not required – some parents have concerns about the privacy and safety of their children going online while in school.
"Kids have been bringing these devices to school for the last several years,” said Greg Jung, assistant superintendent for learning and innovation. “They have been accessing their own cellular network, so we don't have any control or any way of knowing what they're accessing."
Martin Garza has a fifth grader and took the district up on its offer to sit in the teacher seminars to find out how they will tackle those problems.
"They're going to get the kids to use a dedicated Wifi network with those filters in place probably many of those same kids don't have at home,” said Garza.
Students with digital devices will still have access to their own networks, but the district said their method is a step in the right direction.
"We can monitor it much more closely, help prevent those things from happening,” said Jung.
Teachers will also be able to restrict what students see on the school's network. It is something Vickery - a teacher and a mom - said gives her more confidence in the classroom.
"I have a second-grader and a fourth-grader,” she said. “For me to fully understand and be responsible with them and to teach them to be digitally responsible, I need to know what's happening."
The district said families that cannot afford some of these costly devices should not worry. The schools have some items available to use while on campus, and many of the exercises will be in groups to share the devices. But if your child does bring something to school, it's up to them to make sure it's not stolen or lost.
Other districts in Central Texas:
- Eanes ISD in West Austin supplies students from kindergarten through 12th grade with iPads.
- Students in Round Rock and Leander are encouraged to bring their own devices.
In Leander, district officials split the rules into three categories. Students are allowed to use their devices for taking notes, reading, recording lectures and checking email and text messages. If their teachers approve, they can listen to music, check social media, and write and send text messages. However, students are never allowed to play games or watch movies, or use their phones during exams.
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