Wake Ed

Wake County school system deferring BYOD pilot program

The Wake County school system is taking a cautious approach toward testing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) technology policy.

The district has been looking to pilot at a school or some schools allowing students to bring their own wireless devices for use in class. But Cathy Moore, deputy superintendent for school performance, told school board members on March 18 that administrators are deferring the pilot “until next year some time.”

Moore said they “need to wait a little longer” to do the pilot.

BYOD is a way that school districts can deal with not having enough technology by letting students bring their own laptops, tablets and smartphones for classroom use. But the approach also raises concerns about equity because low-income students are less likely to have these wireless devices.

There are also technology infrastructure issues with BYOD.

At the March 13 student achievement committee meeting, Chief Business Officer David Neter said that every school in the district has wireless capacity.

But Neter said they can’t say that every campus has end-to-end wireless capacity and one-to-one density. Some campuses are really spread out, especially with the mobile classrooms. Many older schools also don’t have the ability to let every student go online wirelessly at the same time.

Neter said last fall’s bond issue will allow them to “make a big dent” in the one-to-one issue. Last fall’s $810 million bond issue is part of a $982 million construction program that set aside $64.9 million for technology.

Neter said they’re using bond money to upgrade the technology infrastructure at schools, such as giving them one-to-one wireless capacity. He said they’re using the cash part of the $64,9 million to buy new devices.

Currently, Neter said that 40 elementary schools, 15 middle schools and eight high schools out of the district’s 170 schools have one-to-one wireless capacity.