When they go back to school this week, Lucia Mar Unified School District students could be lugging more than just their traditional school supplies — the school district is now encouraging middle and high school students to bring their own laptops to class.
The initiative (called BYOD or “Bring Your Own Device”) is part of a districtwide step toward integrating more technology into the school day, including adding a parent app and online enrollment.
“We’ve really had a very interesting transformation in the past 16 and 17 months,” said Ron Walton, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “We have the ability to do much more with our families.”
The new policy allows students to bring the “device of their choice” to school for use in between classes or in select classes where their teachers allow it.
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The change comes as the school district is expanding its use of Google’s G Suite for Education tools, which include Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Classroom. (The latter is an online tool that allows teachers to share assignments, worksheets and general information with their students in a central location.)
We want to stay attuned to what the needs are of our students.
Ron Walton, Lucia Mar assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction
These changes give students more access to their classwork and their teachers, and help prepare students for future college and career success, Walton said.
“It’s a statement of the reality we are in nowadays,” he said. “We want to stay attuned to what the needs are of our students.”
The district recommends Chromebooks — a laptop that uses Google’s operating system — but any laptop that is 4 years old or less, can run the Chrome web browser, has at least 4GB of RAM and a keyboard with a trackpad or mouse will work, according to a district handout.
Walton emphasized that students are not required to bring devices to class — if a lesson specifically requires a computer, the school will provide one. The new policy instead is meant to encourage students to use the devices they are already comfortable with, and to eventually integrate their laptops into the regular school day.
The district has also taken steps to improve its technology for parents.
Notably, the district released an app ahead of the school year that will allow parents to not only check their students’ grades, but also contact teachers or the school, get handouts and important forms, pay lunch and bus fees, be notified of emergency situations and even keep up to date on the latest school sports news.
The app is available on both iPhone and Android devices.
“The key is ‘parents will be able to,’ ” Walton said. “They’ll be informed, be able to communicate directly with their students’ teachers. ... It’s about being able to do everything you need to do as a parent.”
Individual school websites are also being updated, according to Lucia Mar spokeswoman Amy Jacobs, so that all of the websites have a standardized format. Jacobs said this is to make it easier for parents to find information as their children progress through the different schools.
What device can my student use?
The district recommends Chromebooks made by HP, Dell, Samsung, Acer, Asus or Lenovo, though any laptop or mobile device meeting the following specifications will work:
▪ Chrome web browser accessibility
▪ 4 years old or less
▪ 4GB RAM minimum
▪ Keyboard with a trackpad or mouse