BYOD in schools stirs up controversy in Qld

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BYOD in schools stirs up controversy in Qld

How to get tech in the classroom within a budget?

Queensland's Education Minister, John Paul Langbroek, has publicly hosed down fears that the state's parents will be forced to buy their children an iPad or laptop for use in the classroom. 

Langbroek appeared on 4BC radio this morning to reassure listeners that state schools would not become subject to a move to make the devices compulsory in schools, off the back of reports in the Brisbane Times that Milton State School had introduced a mandatory BYOD program.

"No one will be forced to buy a device," he said. 

"In a community where there is a student who cannot afford a device we will make sure the appropriate arrangements are made by the principal to ensure students don’t miss out because of the family’s circumstance."

A number of Queensland schools are trialling BYOD programs, in an effort to leverage the growing ubiquity of tablets and laptops amongst school kids and their families, but the Minister said these are being decided on a school-by-school basis.

But even in these cases, he said, provisions would be made to make sure student are "not sitting in the classroom reading a book while everyone else is using an iPad".

"[Parents] can address that with their principal or their teacher just as they might if they have problems with uniforms or shoes," he said.

A spokeswoman for Langbroek said there were about 330,000 computing devices - from PCs to tablets - circulating in the state's public schools system, including roughly 45,000 government-provided tablets.

BYOD has emerged as an option for a number of schools wanting to maintain the role of technology in the classroom after funding dried up for the Commonwealth's laptops in schools program, and the devices handed out reach the end of their lifespan. The program paid for a device to be provided for all students between years nine and 12 over a four year period.

Langbroek said he wanted to weigh equality concerns against "some kids just using these devices as toys".

"We want to be able to use this in a way that helps us, instead of having to provide them ourselves like governments have in the past. As these devices have become more accessible and cheap, we are trialling bring your own device now in more schools."

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