NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 14, 2012

Students bringing wireless devices into Pentucket classrooms

(Continued)

Pentucket’s technology initiative reflects a growing trend in education both nationally and globally to integrate personal technologies into curriculum. The theory is that students become more independent and lessons become more individualized as these one-to-one learning programs are implemented.

“Schools are moving toward one-to-one environments where every student has a device,” said high school librarian Rachel Costello.

The march toward a wireless learning environment at Pentucket began back in November 2009. Since then Frash’s team has installed 102 high-capacity wireless access points in all six schools plus the Central Office — work that was accomplished “at a cost of less than $80,000 for all schools due to skilled analysis, careful planning, vendor negotiations and tremendous volunteer effort,” she noted.

Last November PEF, in partnership with The Provident Bank, funded $10,000 to pilot the BYOD program in eight classrooms at the high school. The money paid for iPod Touch devices, microphones, wireless access and technology training for teachers.

Costello said the initiative “really spiced up” her lessons and energized students in her classes. And students in the high school’s Connections II class agreed the BYOD program really worked for them.

“An iPod is so much more fun and easy to learn on,” said Mitchell Rancourt. Rancourt’s classmate, Jessica Barlow, said, “It was better than using paper and writing things down, and the activities and games were fun.”

Feedback from the pilot program was used to derive a guide for rolling out the initiative in other classrooms this year. Frash contends that the successful implementation of the program will not only enhance learning but also generate long-term cost savings.

“Using student-owned and maintained equipment will relieve some of the cost burden to purchase and support similar devices for the district,” she said. Eventually, only a small inventory of “check-out” WiFi devices for those students who don’t own one or who forgot to bring one to school will need to be maintained on site, Frash said.

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