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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Wireless devices are welcome in nine Hillsborough schools



Nine schools in Hillsborough County are experimenting with "BYOD," which stands for -- don't worry, parents -- Bring Your Own Device.

Students there can use laptops, netbooks and other such internet-enabling devices in the classroom.

It's a small-scale version of what you already see when you visit Wiregrass Ranch High School in Pasco County. Hillsborough educators want to see if the practice will work districtwide. Supporters on the School Board say it's more in line with the way students read, learn and communicate, while critics are asking questions about equal access and security.

One hitch is full wireless coverage, something superintendent MaryEllen Elia hopes to see before too long. At a strategic planning workshop on Thursday, she said she'll have a much better timetable after the Legislature finishes with this year's budget.

She and district budget officials also are researching devices to lease or purchase for testing and classroom use. "There are devices, and the prices almost weekly are going down," she told board members and senior staff.

This month, meanwhile, BYOD was launched on a trial basis at Baily, Cannella and Stowers elementary schools; Barrington, Pierce and Walker middle schools; and Hillsborough, Steinbrenner and Strawberry Crest high schools. The schools were chosen based on their wireless infrastructure and the willingness of staff and students to participate.

In June, students, parents and staff will be surveyed for their feedback.

[Last modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 2:15pm]


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