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Freshman BYAD system ‘changing the culture’

The freshman class at Malvern has a new system that requires them to bring in an approved device for learning.

In order to help students more effectively learn, connect, and communicate, Malvern implemented a “bring your own approved device” program for the freshman class.

Head of Upper School Mr. Ronald Algeo was a key proponent in getting the BYAD policy in place. This idea has been up in the air for years, according to Algeo.

“There are many pros and cons to a policy like this, but I believe that the pros outweigh the cons,” Algeo said.

According to a study by Concordia University, the benefits of the BYAD program are abundant. The study states peace of mind, instant answers, wider access to information, videos, and social learning are the key factors that play into why BYAD is a great idea for schools.

“Bringing this policy to all 500 upper school students would be hard to manage. We wanted to make sure we learn as much from this as possible.”

Mr. Ron Algeo

“As a school,” Algeo said, “we’re looking at doing more and more skill development and work with students where they can incorporate more technology, and this has been going on for years.”

Algeo described schools having a “one to one” program, where everyone in the school has the same device. He used the example of his daughter. At her high school, students are given iPads. “For some classes, it works great. For others, not so much,” Algeo said.

According to Algeo, the freshmen feel that everyone having their own unique devices is a better way of learning rather than everyone having the same one.

Algeo was part of a committee that decided on bringing this policy to Malvern. He said that the committee consisted of a variety of faculty and staff, including the dean of students, the technology department, school councillors, and the financial department. The school wanted a team approach to this decision, and they wanted to see what everyone thought and if the policy should be implemented into Malvern.

The committee had the idea to bring the BYAD to the school, but only for the freshmen. The staff didn’t want to get the upperclassmen involved because they are “not used to that,” according to Mr. Algeo.

“We wanted to see in a smaller scale what would work and what would be some of the obstacles or struggles,” Algeo said. “Bringing this policy to all 500 upper school students would be hard to manage. We wanted to make sure we learn as much from this as possible.”

Algeo believes that the system will be successful.

“The freshmen coming in, everything was new to them, so we knew that if freshmen do it, it would be just a normal expectation for them,” he said. “Next year, when they move up they’ll have them, and next year’s freshmen will have their own devices as well. We are slowly changing the culture that way.”

Freshman Gavin Grande thoroughly enjoys the BYAD system, and thinks that it is a great way to learn.
“The system really seems to be working for me and my friends,” Grande said. “My middle school didn’t allow for us to have any of our own devices at all, and we were only allowed to use the computers the school had about once a month, and that was the case with most of my friends too”

The BYAD program is new to many freshmen at Malvern because their grade schools either didn’t let them have devices in school, or because the schools did not provide the students with devices at all.

“The devices let us go on the internet for research and studies. Our teachers sometimes give us online assignments, so having an online device really helps us out,” Grande said.

The BYAD program has been a success up to this point, according to Algeo and Grande. “Only time will tell if the program will continue to work or fail, but so far so good,” Grande said.

Story produced in senior Journalism and Media Literacy elective class.

About Vince Sposato

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