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Technology policy will not include BYAD in 2015-2016

Discussions about a future “Bring Your Own Approved Device” program have slowed down as the technology department focuses on other goals.

Malvern Prep will not be moving to a “Bring Your Own Approved Device” or BYAD program next year. According to Head of School Mr. Christian Talbot, a student-centered learning environment must be established before Malvern will take the next step and ask each student to purchase their own device.

Instead Malvern’s Technology Department is focusing on other technology goals, including a change from the “My Backpack” service.

The Blackfriar Chronicle reported in October 2014 that BYAD would go into effect in September 2015, according to Mr. Terrence Norko, Director of Technology. In that story, Mr. Norko indicated that BYAD would possibly go into effect during the 2014-2015 school year.

The Technology Department is not considering dropping BYAD. “We see it being a requirement for the following school year,” Mr. John Street, Assistant Director of Technology said.

The current student technology policy does not require students to bring in devices. “Right now, teachers can ask students to bring devices in, but no students are required to,” said Mr. Kevin Whitney, Dean of Curriculum.

Whitney said that 2015-2016 technology will be “a continuation of the current policy of teachers’ discretion with no definitive hardware requirements.”

According to Whitney, the delay in BYAD is a result of resource limitation. “It is because of two limited resources; time and money,” he said.

Mr. Talbot describes the more deliberate approach in conversations on BYAD more broadly. “We have slowed down discussions around BYAD because technology is a tool to support learning. It is not an end in and of itself.”

According to Talbot, BYAD will not be implemented until the school has thought through all the implications of what he describes as a BYAD environment and not a policy. The other two conditions are a developed strategy for technology in support of student-centered learning and faculty and student training to use devices.

Whitney explained that the Technology Department is currently in the process of replacing the “My Backpack” service, which is supplied by Senior Systems Inc.

Street confirmed that My Backpack will be replaced by the 2015-2016 school year. Street explained that the Technology Department has decided on what system will be used next year. However, he opted not to comment on this new system until it has been announced to the faculty.

According to both Street and Whitney, the process of switching out of “My Backpack” is intensive. “This huge process takes over a year,” said Whitney. “That is really a big shift, a major technology change happening behind the scenes,” he said.

Mr. Talbot suggested that some of the decisions about future directions in technology for Malvern depend on the school’s transition to a student centered learning environment.

“When students are the ones generating and exploring questions, when students are the ones creating solutions to problems or creating projects that demonstrate deep and authentic understanding, and when all of that is happening consistently in every corner of the campus, then we can talk about asking everyone to purchase a device that will support that student-centered learning,” said Talbot.

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