Columbia County school study student use of electronic tablets

Most Columbia County students likely use some electronic devices in their lives outside school, and the system is studying how to allow their use in the classroom.

Called BYOD – “Bring Your Own Device” – the policies could allow students to use their own iPads or Kindles for educational purposes.

“This is the future – this is where we need to go,” said School Board member Mike Sleeper, after a presentation Tuesday by Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway.

Current policies, written to prevent cell phone use in classrooms, are being outpaced by technology, Carraway said. “At this time in technology, there’s no backing out,” she said.

Currently, two county middle schools are piloting programs to allow students to use their own tablets in school, she said. They’re limited, however, by being unable to access the school system’s wireless Internet network because of security concerns.

Carraway and the school system’s technology director, James Van Meter, plan to travel this week to Forsythe County to study their system’s BYOD policy and report ideas back to the board, Carraway said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent Charles Nagle said the future of the county’s annual Back to School Festival is in doubt now that its major sponsor, University Hospital, has withdrawn from the event.

“It’s become very popular, and a lot of people look forward to it,” Nagle said, but added it’s unlikely the school system can afford to continue the festival unless another major sponsor comes forth.

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