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Laptops, smartphones, iPads, minis. Gone are the days of black and white composition notebooks and three-ring binders

Dan Fishbein 10.08

Laptops, smartphones, iPads, minis. Gone are the days of black and white composition notebooks and three-ring binders

The Ridgewood News Superintendent’s Corner January 2013 by Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D.

The following column appeared in The Ridgewood News on January 25, 2013.

Laptops, smartphones, iPads, minis. Gone are the days of black and white composition notebooks and three-ring binders. Say hello to a new world where kids routinely read, write and do arithmetic with the aid of their computers both at home and at school, where on any given day talk about the galaxy in science class might refer as much to a new electronic device as to the stars.

A survey last fall revealed that nearly 99 percent of our high school students and almost 97 percent of our middle school students use a home computer for school projects or homework. The survey also showed that nearly 54 percent of our high school students and almost 44 percent of our middle school students routinely bring a smartphone or other Personal Electronic Device (PED) to school. To address this new reality, that our children are permitted to be plugged in at home but were unplugged at school, late last fall the administration asked the Board of Education to approve a policy making the district’s wireless Internet access available to students when in our buildings. This policy, dubbed BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), enables students to now use their PEDs as accessory tools in their academic studies. BYOD was implemented at our high school in November and will soon be introduced at the middle schools.

With BYOD, kids used to having the electronic world at their fingertips for research and report-writing at home now can have it available to them at school, too, and not just in the computer lab. BYOD turns the whole school building into an all-learning environment, allowing students to do online research, reading, writing, and even getting a jump start on homework virtually anywhere — while eating lunch in the cafeteria, for example, or during a free period or study hall.

Understandably, there have been some questions about BYOD. The following points attempt to clarify concerns and answer questions.

How does BYOD work? BYOD allows students to access the district’s wireless Internet guest network, so that they can use their PEDs throughout the school building as accessory tools for note-taking, report-writing or Internet research. In the future, teachers will have the potential
to develop lesson plans incorporating the further use of technology in their classes.

Does BYOD become a disruption in the classroom? Teachers are responsible for supervising and monitoring the use of PEDs in the classroom. They reserve the right to have students shut down or close their devices for any reason at any time.

Who’s monitoring the kids on the Internet? Student Internet access is fully monitored by the district’s filtering software so that only approved sites can be entered. Students are only permitted on the guest network, so that social media sites are not accessible, nor are school systems and records. Students are also subject to the district’s pre-existing acceptable use policy governing the use of district technology. If a parent or guardian has not approved the annual consent to this policy, the child is not permitted to use the district’s Internet access.

Are students at a disadvantage if they don’t own a PED or bring one to school? There is no impact on students who choose not to participate. If a teacher requires the Internet for any assignment, the school and public library computers are available to students who do not have
a computer or Internet access.

Won’t BYOD lead to numerous lost or stolen devices? The BYOD policy was developed with the knowledge that the majority of middle school and high school students routinely bring cellphones and other handheld “smart” devices to school. While that number may increase
because of the new BYOD policy, any additional risk factor is most likely minimal, if any.

Does the district recommend a specific PED brand? The district does not require that students own a PED, nor does it make any recommendations. Any electronic device with Internet access capability can be used. In the future, the district plans to set up a virtual desktop environment, which will provide students and staff the capability of remotely accessing their personalized district desktops on demand. Their icons, folders, toolbars, even their wallpapers will be available to them from any place at any time. Virtual desktops will help students more efficiently manage their work between home and school. This enhancement will also help reduce the support and provisioning costs of maintaining the district’s computer equipment, as
well as extending the useful life of the equipment.

Will the BYOD policy lead to the phase-out of printed textbooks? The BYOD policy opens up the Internet so students may download readings or assignments. It does not replace textbooks but it does position the district to respond to the future of the textbook publishing industry, which will be largely electronic.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any further questions or concerns. Daniel Fishbein. Ed.D., is Superintendent of the Ridgewood Public Schools. Dr. Fishbein can be reached at 201-670-2700, ext. 10530, or via e-mail at For more information on the Ridgewood Public Schools visit the district website at or visit the Facebook page at

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